London Book Fair 2020 cancelled after exodus of big publishers

The London Book Fair 2020 has been cancelled less than a week before it was scheduled to start after big publishing firms pulled out of the event.

Publishers started withdrawing from the LBF last week with some firms saying their US staff would not be attending, and Amazon pulled out of the fair entirely at the weekend. The trend accelerated this week. Hachette quit the fair on Tuesday (March 3), saying none of its staff, including those in the UK, would be going to the fair. Pan Macmillan, Harper Collins and Penguin Random House followed suit in pulling out.

The absence of these major publishers brought the cancellation of the event after the LBF organisers Reed Exhibitions had insisted in recent days that the fair would be going ahead. Reed’s cancellation statement is included at the top of this article and you can click on this to read the full statement.

The fair was scheduled to run from March 10-12 at Olympia in West London. Reed says, ‘The effects, actual and projected, of coronavirus are becoming evident across all aspects of our lives here in the UK and across the world, with many of our participants facing travel restrictions.

‘We have been following UK government guidelines and working with the rolling advice from the public health authorities and other organisations, and so it is with reluctance that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with this year’s event.’

Reed has been quick to post the dates of next year’s London Book Fair on the LBF website (March 9-11, 2021) but the firm has come in for criticism for leaving cancellation so late. 2020 would have been the 50th LBF annual event.