Traditional Publishing

Romantasy, AI and Palestinian voices: publishing trends emerge at London book fair – Sunday March 17, 2024

Future publishing priorities also included sustainability, neurodivergent protagonists and new retellings of Greek mythology

Palestine, artificial intelligence and romantasy were high on the agenda at this week’s London book fair. More than 30,000 agents, authors, translators, publishers and other book industry professionals flocked to Olympia London to secure deals and discuss publishing trends, challenges and rising genres. Here is our round-up of the main takeaways, and a flavour of what we can expect to see in bookshops in the next year or so.

Palestinian voices
On the first day of the fair, Book Workers for a Free Palestine held a vigil outside to “mark the death of Palestinian writers, poets, academics and journalists killed by Israel”, wrote Ailah Ahmed, a publishing director at Penguin. English PEN ran two seminars focused on Palestine and freedom of expression, featuring writers including Isabella Hammad, who was recently longlisted for the Women’s prize.

“It has been remarkably difficult in the face of the violence that we are seeing to make room for poetry,” Rafeef Ziadah told the fair. “Many people have written to me saying, ‘Why haven’t you written poems, like We Teach Life?’ Poetry doesn’t work that way. It’s not on call when there’s a war.” On the deals side, Profile Books acquired the rights to publish What Does Israel Fear from Palestine? by Raja Shehadeh, which explores opportunities for peace that have been “rejected by Israel” since its formation in 1948. Shehadeh explores “what went wrong again and again, and why”.

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