London Book Fair cancelled over coronavirus fears

Image from London Book Fair 2019Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The annual trade event welcomes delegates from around the world

This year's London Book Fair, one of the UK's largest book events, has been called off due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

"It is with reluctance that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with this year's event," said organiser Reed Exhibitions in a statement.

The announcement follows a number of publishers and agencies pulling out of the event.

It had been scheduled to take place at Olympia London from 10 to 12 March.

Reed Exhibitions said many of the fair's participants had faced travel restrictions in the run-up to this year's event.

The company said London Book Fair would return "better than ever" in 2021.

Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster were among several leading publishers to withdraw from the fair before its cancellation.

Amazon also pulled out earlier this week "out of an abundance of caution, and with the health and safety of our employees, customers and partners as our No. 1 priority".

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The annual fair sees more than 25,000 people involved in the publishing industry gather to promote their books, sell rights and negotiate deals.

The event, first held in 1971, had been due to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

Cressida Cowell, Lynda La Plante, Edna O'Brien and Gyles Brandreth had been among the authors set to attend.

'Precautionary decision'

Concerns about coronavirus have also put paid to a World Book Day event that was due to take place at the New Wimbledon Theatre in south-west London on Thursday.

More than 1,000 children from 17 schools had been due to attend events featuring authors including Karyn Parsons, Konnie Huq and Sita Brahmachari.

The organisers of Wimbledon BookFest said they had taken "the precautionary decision to cancel". It came days after a staff member at Wimbledon College tested positive.

"Although at this time formal guidance on large gatherings has not changed, we understand concerns that schools and parents may not want their children mixing in large groups of this type," organisers said in a statement.

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