London Book Fair forced online despite UK bookshops reopening

Organisers turn the page from live to online-only event

Customers wearing face covering browse for books inside the re-opened Daunt Books independent bookshop in London, as coronavirus restrictions are eased across the country following England's third national lockdown on April 12, 2021. Britons on Monday toasted a significant easing of coronavirus restrictions, with early morning pints -- and much-needed haircuts -- as the country took a tentative step towards the resumption of normal life. / AFP / Niklas HALLE'N
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One of the world’s most important literary events will be fully online for a second year running.

The London Book Fair (LBF) said on Thursday that the three-day programme, starting on June 29, would not be an in-person event, despite recent efforts to reopen the British economy.

Last Monday, the UK allowed bookshops to reopen for the first time this year as the country gradually makes its way out of lockdown.

LBF, which cancelled its 2020 live programme, said that while it could not offer a physical event this year, the Online Book Fair would take its place.

“Given the complex challenges and constraints of the global pandemic, we wanted to give as much notice as possible to exhibitors and attendees, while making the best possible decision for the publishing industry,” LBF director Andy Ventris said.

“With the continued uncertainty around international travel and vaccination rollouts, it has become apparent that an in-person fair for 2021 would not be able to offer the full value to participants that we want to deliver.”

LBF is a large book-publishing trade fair held annually, usually in April, and is a global marketplace for rights negotiations.

The Online Book Fair will look to attract a global audience.

“We are deeply committed to delivering a digital event in June that offers real value and flexibility, and to broaden the reach of the fair to the widest possible international audience,” Mr Ventris said.

“The Online Book Fair will provide the industry with a dynamic digital programme packed with content and opportunities to make new connections.”

LBF hopes to hold a live event in April 2022.