Highlights from London Book Fair: A Look at Future Technologies & New Partnerships
The three-day London Book Fair (LBF) is often used as a platform to announce new publishing partnerships, as well as a forum to analyze global publishing trends. The conference, which ran from April 12th to the 14th this week, has offered plenty of both, from predictions of artificially intelligent books to new global publishing initiatives. Here are a few of the top stories that emerged from this year’s conference:
PRH U.K. Chair on Impact of Technology in Book Publishing - In a keynote at the LBF kick-off event, Quantum conference, Penguin Random House U.K. chair Gail Rebuck spoke on the challenges and opportunities technology presents the book industry today. According to Publishers Weekly, Rebuck said that massive amounts of consumer data is making it easier than ever for publishers to target audiences based on their interests and repackage backlist titles. But she added that technology has also made it easier for authors to self-publish and distribute their books online. Rebuck argued that this glut of content has created a market where only a handful of authors can attain blockbuster success while many others struggle to financially support themselves with their writing.
The Future of Artificially Intelligent Books - To Play For founder and CEO Guy Gadney led a forward-looking session on April 12th about artificial intelligence and the role it may play in the future of book publishing. Gadney said that one day AI technology will drive a new form of publishing where books are able “to write themselves,” reports Publishers Weekly. AI is already beginning to tackle storytelling through interactive apps like “The Suspect,” said Gadney. In “The Suspect” users must ask rapid-fire questions in an interrogation setting to gain 10 pieces of information from the suspect. AI comes into play when the suspect responds, using information from the player’s social media feeds and selected questions to personalize its response. Gadney noted that 90% of this story was written by hand, with the rest automated by AI. There’s still a long way to go before stories are completely automated, he said.
Harlequin Unites British and American Divisions - LBF has always focused on global publishing and rights, so it was fitting that Harlequin announced a deeper partnership between it’s U.K. and U.S. divisions at the conference on April 13th. The groups will jointly distribute, market, and sell their titles across global English markets. Said Harlequin U.K. executive publisher Lisa Milton in a press release, “With one voice and one campaign tweaked for each market, we can achieve so much more than we could individually.” See the complete press release describing the partnership here.
Quarto Partners with Kalimat Group to Create New Arab-Language Imprint - On April 14th Quarto, a U.K.-based publisher specializing in illustrated books, announced a partnership with the Sharjah-based Kalimat Group to form the Kalimat Quarto imprint. Quarto will provide a number of its cookbook titles to Kalimat to translate in Arabic and distribute throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The partnership allows Quarto to expand its footprint into the Arab world and for Kalimat to diversify its catalog of non-fiction content and sell cookbooks for the first time. Read the complete press release here.
Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.