March 5, 2020

COVID-19 fears cause London Book Fair to cancel


LBF 2020: off. (Arielinson / WikiCommons, under CC BY-SA)

Mounting fears of COVID-19 continue to spread—not just globally but in the publishing world. First the popular Bologna Book Fair was rescheduled, and now one of the world’s biggest international literary events, the London Book Fair, is canceled. After weeks of closely monitoring the virus and even stating just the other day that the LBF would carry on with a week delay, Reed Exhibition has officially canceled the event. This likely comes after many major publishing houses and agencies were pulling their employees from traveling.

In a statement, Reed Exhibition say:

Reed Exhibitions has today announced that The London Book Fair 2020, scheduled to take place at Olympia, London, from 10 to 12 March will be cancelled following the escalation of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Europe.  The effects, actual and projected, of Coronavirus are becoming evident across all aspects of our lives here in the UK and across the world, with many of our participants facing travel restrictions. We have been following UK government guidelines and working with the rolling advice from the public health authorities and other organisations, and so it is with reluctance that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with this year’s event.  We recognise that business has to continue. With this in mind, we will of course support and collaborate with exhibitors and visitors to keep our world moving during this difficult period. We thank all those from the UK and a multitude of other countries who have prepared over the last year to deliver what promised to be a wonderful book fair showcasing, as ever, the exciting best of the global book industry. The London Book Fair will return, better than ever, in 2021.

The escalation of COVID-19 has had a ripple effect in many industries and it is sure to cause a dent financially as well. The virus has even caused the high-profile upcoming Bond blockbuster No Time To Die to push its release date from April to November. Italy has closed its school and universities. With such a large book event with a large number of attendees, it’s difficult to predict the long term ramifications of how the virus will affect publishing.

While the London Book Fair is canceled for 2020 entirely, it will be back in full swing in 2021. The question of travel and accommodation refunds remain.



Andréa Córdova is a publicist at Melville House.