Until the pandemic is under control there will not be any large, live trade fairs, so the London Book Fair has set new, later dates for 2021 “to create the best opportunity of hosting a live event.” Originally scheduled for March 9–11, the organizers announced plans (and hopes) to convene June 29–July 1. While it gives them room to wait for an improvement in public health, it would put the show in an awkward time slot traditionally avoided by big fairs for good, practical reasons. For US attendees, it also puts the event right in front of the long Independence Day weekend. Understanding that even the new dates might not work out, organizers promised, “If the current outlook changes will make a final decision on the live event’s feasibility by the end of March 2021 at the very latest.” The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is currently aiming for a show April 12–15.
LBF frustrated and angered many international attendees by waiting until March 4 to cancel this year — less than a week before the scheduled beginning of the show on March 10, and after many visitors of good conscience had cancelled travel plans. Fair organizers made the situation worse by penalizing those who cancelled prior to the official notice, providing rights center exhibitors only a 60 percent credit towards the 2021 show.
Reed Exhibitions also named Andy Ventris as the Fair’s new director, following the departure this summer of Jacks Thomas, who lead the event for seven years. Ventris has been at Reed since 2013. He said in the announcement: “Having worked with the LBF team in recent months, I’m delighted to be taking on the role of Director, especially at this time of great change. There continue to be many challenges facing us as we plan LBF 21, and I believe it’s crucial that we are open and transparent with our exhibitors, partners and visitors throughout the process.”
The LBF Advisory Board is meeting in November to help plan for the 2021 event. Organizers say they will return to their usual spring dates in 2021.