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Posted by Kate, October 8, 2012

Preparations for the Frankfurt Book Fair

The picture at the top of this post is of me and Ola applying glitter nail varnish to a book dummy of Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten by Alison Murray.

This is an example of one of the many labour-intensive exercises involved in getting print children’s books (particularly print children’s books with a novelty element) to a book fair in dummy form: in 90 minutes, Adrian, Ola and I leave for Frankfurt. Dummy books are, for the uninitiated, blank books with printed-out pages (from our fairly standard printer), pasted into them. Making dummies is always time-consuming, but, when a book has a special “finish” like foil or glitter, or when it is a pop-up or a lift-the-flap or a pull-tab book, the time that making a dummy takes rises exponentially.

In the case of Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten, the book has 12 double-page spreads, and each spread has to have glitter on it. There are three people selling at the book fair and each of us needs a dummy… so that’s a lot of nail varnish, applied with a very fine brush!

Over the weekend, The Crow’s Nest was a busy place. Ola was preparing The Files. Using a method that I somehow haven’t managed to evolve in quarter of a century, we have a paper-based system for recording interest in and comments on titles, which we then feed into a database. But the files travel to and from the fair in our hand luggage: they are the basis for much of our rights selling activity for the next six months (until the next international book fair…).

The Files, with, in yellow, the schedule of confirmed half-hour appointments for Adrian, Ola and me

Steph was – actually still is as I speak – designing picture books: positioning text, applying backgrounds, handlettering covers. Kristina was doing the same for board books. Camilla was pasting individual half-pages into a split-page book, Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Farm.

And right now Giselle is finalising the cover for the same book.

Cover options for Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Farm: the changes are mainly to the colour of the lettering for the word “farm”.

This last bit of dummy-making is always a bit tight (though it does feel particularly so for this book fair!). The finished books and proofs are all packed up and ready to go with the Man with the Van, and will arrive tomorrow on our Frankfurt Book Fair stand, which will be partly assembled by Adrian and Ola (while I am at the Tools of Change Conference) with the haul that we’ll acquire from Ikea this evening.

Wish us luck!

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