Home from the London Book Fair now and still sifting through the catalogues, sweets, pens and assorted business cards collected at the London Book Fair. It was just as enjoyable, exciting and overwhelming as I’d imagined. Monica Redlich wrote Five Farthings in 1939 with an imaginary Book Week and Book Fair. I’ve added a couple of excerpts below, but first, some photographs of a wonderful day. I photographed what caught my interest and what I could focus on between the crowds, so I have lots of photographs of individual covers and nothing that shows the sprawl of it all. Romania’s stand with books suspended in the air appealed along with sofas to enjoy sampling, so it’s today’s illustration.
The great Book Fair Week was coming near very fast. Behind the scenes in the bookselling and publishing trades preparations for it had been going on for months. It was to be something bigger and more exciting than anything of the kind had been before, though it would of course be based on the experience of past years and have the same experts to run it. It was to be not only the huge Book Fair at Earl’s Court, with its innumerable stalls, side-shows, lectures, plays, and special exhibits. All the London booksellers were joining in, as well as nearly all the publishers, and in each of their shops there would be a display of books for the whole of Book Fair Week, with competitions so thrilling that they almost obliged everybody to take the next bus or tube train out to Earl’s Court. There were Book Galas at many of the restaurants. Special Book Buses would be running from Piccadilly and Oxford Circus, with a book lent to each passenger to read during the drive: there was no end to the ideas which had been thought of to make Book Fair Week the most exciting show of the year. [...]
When Vivien got back to the exhibition at ten the next morning she could hardly recognize it. She had been much too tired the night before to take in the fact that other parts of the Book Fair besides Broadstreet’s stand had been progressing, and now, as she showed her card of admission and got her first glimpse of it all, she was quite bewildered to think that this was the waste of scaffolding and dust-sheets and chairs she remembered from yesterday. The whole place was bright with colour, and full of life. There were posters, banners, pictures, signposts: the Fun Fair was being tried out by some very young assistants, who seemed to find it good: and everywhere, as far as the eye could see and beyond, there were books.
(Chapter 8. The Fun Begins).