April 17, 2024

London Book Fair 2024: What the Students Saw

By NYU MS in Publishing Students

Every year, NYU selects four graduate students from the MS in Publishing program at the SPS Center for Publishing and Applied Liberal Arts to attend the annual London Book Fair, where publishers from all around the world come together to showcase titles and negotiate rights. The fair runs for only three days and each day is scheduled densely with panels, lectures, special guests, it’s nearly impossible for one person to see everything.  The students who attended the 2024 London Book Fair assisted the staff in setting up each stage and organizing the venue, which gave them a front row seat to even the most popular events. Our students learned about the latest trends in the book industry,  glimpsed the forefront of environmentally conscious innovation, and heard bestselling authors Taylor Jenkins Reid and Richard Osman discuss their creative process and the art of writing. In addition, the students had the opportunity to introduce themselves to publishing executives  Jennifer Brehl and Judith Curr, who were happy to answer questions and provide insight on the current state of publishing.  Each of the students has reflected on the book fair and has shared their personal experience below.

NYU MS in Publishing Students at Westminster Bridge. From left: Jillian Schelzi, Brianne Oliva, Mia Drake, and Juliette Demoor Maslach

Jillian Schelzi

Early on the first day of the book fair, the CEO of Simon & Schuster Jonathan Karp delivered an opening keynote address on the London Book Fair Main Stage. I was particularly excited to hear Jonathan speak and provide insight on the future of S&S given the recent purchase of Simon & Schuster by private equity firm KKR.In conversation with the Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson, Karp mentioned the opportunity to “reinvest in [themselves],”  noting that S&S is committed to international growth. Against the backdrop of the U.S. efforts to ban Tiktok, Karp confirmed that Booktok continues to drive sales across adult and YA titles. 

Karp also applauded the Publisher’s Association of the U.K. and the Association of American Publishers for their continued support for author’s rights in relation to copyright and emerging AI technologies. S&S is dedicated to respecting authors’ contracts and wishes and intends to “proceed with great caution” in its use of AI.

Finally, the conversation turned towards Porter and Karp’s take on the decrease in popularity of nonfiction books. Given the current socio-political environment, Karp believes people across the globe are seeking escapism through fiction. However, Karp remains positive.Good nonfiction has the power to present a unique perspective and change the conversation. 

Jillian is in her final semester of NYU’s M.S. in Publishing Program. She previously worked in Finance at consulting firm Boston Consulting Group, until she moved to New York to pursue her M.S. in Publishing. She hopes to continue her career in publishing as a literary agent.

Juliette Demoor Maslach

On the  first day of the fair, the NYU MS in Publishing students  had a brief chat with Jennifer Brehl, Executive Editor at William Morrow & Voyager. She spoke about her journey to publishing and her  role editing Neil Gaiman. Among other bestselleing authors. She  gave us valuable advice–including, t, surprisingly, that editorsshouldn’t chase trends. Publishing can be a very slow process, and timing a book release to capitalize on a current trend can be tricky. Instead, editors  should keep in mind the reasons theylove a project, while also identifying the audience  and considering why they’ll want to buy it. 

On the last day of the fair,  we heard Judith Curr, president and publisher of the HarperOne Group in the U.S,.and Ameena Saiyid, founder and managing director of Lightstone Publishers in Pakistan, speak on SheEOs In Publishing: Women Pioneering the Pages panel. e,They spoke eloquently of the challenges they  have faced throughout their careers. For example, Saiyid shared that she was “simply not accepted” and explained how she decided to create a space for herself, and persisted until she was successful.

Juliette is currently doing her second year at the Masters in Publishing. She is an international student from Venezuela and Argentina, and has previously interned at Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents. She hopes to create a space for Latin American authors like herself in the future.

Brianne Oliva

I have attended book-focused events in the past, such as Book Expo America and BookCon, but even I was surprised by the scope and intensity of the London Book Fair! I was stationed primarily at the Main Stage, where one of the most popular events of the whole fair took place: ‘Author of the Day - Taylor Jenkins Reid.’  The conversation was moderated by Leonel Teti, the Editor-in-Chief of Urano World, Taylor’s Spanish publisher, whointroduced attendees to  Reid’s most popular titles: The Seven Husbands of Evenlyn Hugo, Daisy Jones and the Six, Malibu Rising, and Carrie Soto is Back. Taylor said that she wrote these books to showcase the challenges of being a famous woman in a misogynistic world–an experience that the author has learned about firsthandas her books have gained exponential popularity.Reid concluded that it is important to her to be as successful as she can be without being mean. 

Brianne is currently a second-semester student in the MS Publishing program. She is a marketing assistant at Basic Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. Besides reading, Brianne’s hobbies include crocheting, golfing, and playing with her two cats. 


NYU MS in Publishing Students with Judith Curr, President and Publisher of imprints HarperOne, Rayo, HarperCollins Español, and Amistad divisions of HarperCollins

Mia Drake

On day two of the London Book Fair, I moved from working the Main Stage to the Focus Theater, where I watched the Trailblazer awards, which are run by the London Book Fair in partnership with the Publishers Association and supported by the Society of Young Publishers and Book Brunch. This year's winners were Cassie Rocks, Marketing Manager at HarperCollins & Co-director of The FLIP (Female Leadership in Publishing), Humairaa Dudhwala, Assistant Editor at Manchester University Press, Molly Powell, Publishing Director at Hodderscape, Niamh Anderson, Senior Publicity Manager at Little Brown Book Group, Renae Prince, Online Manager at Fane and Rory Codd, Press Officer at Farshore, HarperCollins Publishers.

After receiving their awards, the winners had the chance to answer questions, share their thoughts on the industry, and provide advice from an experienced perspective.  Their advice was simple, yet it resonated with me deeply. They encouraged us  to advocate for yourself, to step out of your comfort zone and say “yes,” , to try new things and diversity your skill set, and to reach out to and network with editors whose work you love, It’s up to you to enact the changes you want to see, to create those spaces, communities, and policies which motivated you from the beginning. They also stressed  the importance  of remaining a passionate and enthusiastic reader.  

Mia is in her final semester at NYU’s M.S. in Publishing program. She is currently working as a marketing coordinator at Dotdash Meredith. Outside of school and work Mia enjoys reading illustrative books that represent people of all walks of life and studying children’s literature. 

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