“Other book festivals have done similar in going digital. The organisers of the Islay Book Festival have been a great help. Last year they ran quite a successful digital festival.”
Like the 2020 London Book Fair, Scotland’s John O’Groats Book Festival was cancelled last year. But while the John O’Groats Festival learned from the past, the London Book Fair seems determined to repeat past mistakes.
The Scottish festival will take place over three weeks starting April 24, constrained by a small budget and limited resources, but with potential reach far wider than the Caithness crowd it would normally attract.
Festival organiser Ian Leith told the John O’Groats Journal:
Other book festivals have done similar in going digital. The organisers of the Islay Book Festival have been a great help. Last year they ran quite a successful digital festival.
They shared some of the things they felt they got wrong and others that were really successful.
Read more at the Journal.
For us, the bigger picture is the continuing dithering by the London Book Fair and Reed Exhibitions, which last year insisted the show would go on, despite the clear reality that it could not, right up until six days before the event was due to start.
The last minute cancellation costs a lot of trust and caused a lot of damage, and one might have expected lessons to have been learned and alternatives seriously considered.
But it seems not. Having promised the LBF would give the trade a clear decision on the event’s prospects (scheduled for end June) by end March, director Andy Ventris then walked back that decision at the very last minute and said a decision would be announced in mid-April.
By now of course few in the trade are taking even that commitment seriously let alone the prospect of a meaningful LBF in any way, shape or form in June.
The sensible thing to have done would have been to plan for a digital event and with contingency plans for a hybrid small-scale in-person event if conditions allowed. That would have put the trade on a clear understanding of prospects.
But of course that didn’t happen, and as per TNPS this weekend,
LBF21 might just manage to hobble forward this summer, but the right thing to do is to put it out of its misery now, and focus on the new normal that will be 2022, by when we just possibly might have the pandemic in the rear-view mirror.
While we await with little hope the next decision from the London Book Fair, based in England but serving the UK, we look forward to a successful online John O’Groats Book Festival serving Scotland and reaching the world.