Friday, April 16, 2010

Try A Relaxing Ocean Voyage

The London Book Fair is scheduled to open on Monday, 19 April.

The Iceland volcano is expected to continue to disrupt air traffic with its ashy belch.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear the noise, is there sound? And if a book fair falls in a cloud of volcanic ash, is there any sound of visitors?

Alistair Burtenshaw, the exhibits director of the fair, has optimistically stated that the show must go on. After all, the hall is rented and there's all those people hired to erect the booths and serve the refreshments. Once such a massive enterprise is in train, there's no stopping it.

The question is, who will be there?

Air travel is shut down at the moment, and won't start up again until the ash cloud has dispersed. That assumes that the volcano will take a rest, a situation that cannot be predicted.

European travelers can fall back on the train, thanks to the Chunnel. As long as an exhibitor or fair guest can get to Paris, they can get to London. Underground. Where the ash cannot reach.

The larger market is, of course, the U.S. of A., and no one has yet dug a train tunnel under the Atlantic Ocean. Mr. Burtenshaw has offered to bring in bodies to man booths for those who simply cannot make it, and you'd have to think that he's directing his proposition to the Americans.

Publishers with offices in London and New York can always call in existing employees to head over to the book fair. Literary agents who are interested in making connections overseas to sell foreign rights for their clients are not so lucky.

To them I say, why not take a boat? A relaxing ocean voyage will get you to London without having to worry about sensitive electronic systems being fried by pumice. The sea air is supposed to be invigorating, and after a winter in New York City's pollution, the voyage could be written off as a medical expense.

Should conditions change, the webmasters for the London Book Fair are on top of things. The website is being regularly updated, and whatever helpful advice or tips that can be dreamed up are being posted.

Expect the literary agents to find a way to make it happen, even in the face of impossible odds. That pretty much describes their job.

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