Jacks Thomas, Director, The London Book Fair, has announced that she is to leave Reed Exhibitions after seven years with the company.
Jacks became Director of LBF in 2013. Under her leadership, she has steered The London Book Fair through a venue consultation and subsequent move, has increased the international reach of the event, and has introduced a number of targeted feature roles alongside Author of the Day, representing the breadth of publishing. The founder of the ‘Building Inclusivity in Publishing’ conference, Thomas has ensured that the year-round Book Fair offering has reflected the industry it serves.
Jacks Thomas said:
“It is of course bittersweet to be making this announcement public after 2020 LBF was cancelled, instead of — as I had anticipated — during the course of another successful fair. Whenever I look back at the last seven years I am astonished by how much the Book Fair has evolved. I have had the benefit of working with the most fantastic team at Reed Exhibitions, and together we have introduced a wider, more diverse and more inclusive offering at The London Book Fair, to reflect the direction of travel of the publishing industry. I want to thank our advisory boards and committees for their input and support, and I look forward to supporting LBF’s next chapter from the sidelines as a new, and perhaps less frenetic, life beckons.”
Darren Johnson, CEO of Reed Exhibitions UK added:
“I am sad to see Jacks leave Reed Exhibitions and LBF. She has certainly had a powerful impact on the show and leaves Reed Exhibitions in a great position to continue to support the industry in new and innovative ways. The London Book Fair is an iconic brand with a rich 50-year history that Reed Exhibitions is honoured to curate and we will continue to invest and build on the great work Jacks has overseen in the last 7 years. We wish Jacks every success in her future endeavours, and I know that she’ll be cheering on all her colleagues and partners at Reed Exhibitions and The London Book Fair.”
David Roche, Non-Executive Chair of The London Book Fair said:
“Since her arrival in 2013, Jacks has transformed The London Book Fair. She oversaw the move from Earls Court to Olympia, and has added layer upon layer of content. Keeping relentless focus on the business-to-business elements that lie at the heart of the Fair, she has attracted many new exhibitors and new countries. She has expanded elements such as the Literary Translation Centre and the Author HQ and her creation of London Book and Screen Week has provided a showcase for the UK’s creative talent. She has also been a tireless advocate of diversity and recognising new talent within the industry. Since submitting her resignation last September, Jacks has been working on a smooth transition with her talented team. Under her assured and innovative stewardship, LBF has become one of the biggest, most popular and productive business events in our publishing calendar.”
Commenting on the news, Cortina Butler, Deputy Director Arts, the British Council, said:
“Jacks Thomas has brought characteristic flair and game-changing ideas to The London Book Fair and it has been a pleasure to work with her and her team on the Market Focus programme. Jacks’s passion and personal commitment to developing new markets have underpinned the partnership between LBF and the British Council and strengthened a unique platform for developing cultural connections and closer links between publishers worldwide. We wish her well.”
Prior to arriving at The London Book Fair, Jacks had worked in the arts and corporate sectors for more than 20 years. She began her career at the BBC before moving into publishing, holding marketing, publicity and communications roles at Victor Gollancz, Michael Joseph, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins before joining Reader’s Digest, where she was seconded to the USA in 2001 to oversee relaunching the brand, and rose to become Director of Communications, Europe, responsible for 15 countries.
She then became a partner at Midas Public Relations for eight years. Among the many authors she has worked with and hosted in her various roles are Malorie Blackman, Julian Fellowes, Neil Gaiman, Anthony Horowitz, Peter James, Judith Kerr, Marian Keyes, Michael Morpurgo, David Nicholls, Michael Palin, Lesley Pearse, Terry Pratchett, Elif Shafak, Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski, Joanna Trollope and Jacqueline Wilson. As an alumnus of the University of Hull (where she studied French) she was particularly pleased to be chosen to publicise the 25th anniversary of Philip Larkin’s death.
Jacks is an active member of many committees, charities and publishing bodies, including the Association for Publishing Education (APE). She sits on Oxford Brookes University’s Industry Advisory Board for publishing. She was for many years chair of the Chiswick branch of the NSPCC, which set a fund-raising record during her tenure, and she co-founded the Chiswick Book Festival in 2010. She is a regular speaker about publishing at leading universities and in schools.
Jacks will step down in the summer and Reed Exhibitions will announce future plans for The London Book Fair in the coming weeks.