Countdown to The London Book Fair

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This is a guest post by Isheeta Mustafi, Editorial Director at RotoVision in Brighton.

RotoVision is part of The Quarto Group’s co-edition arm, so rights fairs like London Book Fair are basically what we plan our calendars around. It involves a fair few months of preparation and although it can be a hectic time fuelled by a lot of hard work, I still (this is my 7th one) really enjoy the buzz of creativity in the weeks that lead up to it.


This is when we start getting our admin ducks in a row. We have systems in place from previous fairs so its quite easy to sort out standard things like packing lists, boxes, paper orders and so on. On the creative side though, this time is all about schedules and forward planning.


The start of the month is usually a flurry of emails arranging meetings, and then the prep goes up a few gears for the creative teams compiling the huge amount of presentation material that we use.


Four weeks suddenly feel more like two! We (I) have been known to dramatically complain about the inconvenience of the Easter break but really, the extra days of holiday go a long way to recharge our batteries before the final push.


1 week to go

The office is like a little hive now. There’s a small mountain of boxes collecting by the doorway. Frantic typing, frequent muttering, colourful language directed at the printer, and copious quantities of tea and biscuits are our mainstays. Theoretically, we should be reviewing and making minor amendments to our presentations but, in reality, we’re nearly always running behind. Some late nights occur. Our Publisher will order in pizza, sometimes there’s beer. The casual observer may notice the gentle sound of spreads being trimmed to the beat of the Rocky theme tune.

Two days to go

We’re packing up the last of the material, proofing our presentations and checking meeting notes. The focus is now entirely on the three days of back-to-back meetings to come.

The day before

I love the before-and-after of book fair set up. At 5:00 in the evening, it’s still a mess of duct tape, wiring, boxes and bubble wrap; and the next morning you come in to a complete transformation. The carpets are laid, the boxes have disappeared and everything looks so shiny! The exhibition teams do an impressive job and it all comes together like a massive jigsaw. The high-octane days ahead are a culmination of months of hard work that really reflect the passion that goes into publishing. I can never resist a proud photo of our books gleaming away on the shelves.

We’ll sometimes make time for a quick revision session with the rights teams, and then—for me, at least—an early night.

I’m sure every team has their own magic formula but my top five tips would be:

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Plan ahead
  3. Plan ahead
  4. Prepare for your plans to go wrong
  5. Buy a new printer.


Isheeta spends her days making books on art, lifestyle and design and has been doing the book fair boogie since 2010. She’s on Twitter and Instagram as @IsheetaM. For more on Quarto, follow @TheQuartoGroup and @QuartoKnows

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