It has been announced that London book fair will be cancelled due to fears regarding the coronavirus.

The cancellation comes amongst growing anger that the delay in stopping the event was putting ‘an unfair financial strain on publishers’ and ‘risking people’s health’.

Organiser Reed Exhibitions announced today (4 March) that the escalation of the illness meant the fair, which was supposed to run from 10-12 March, would be called off. Around 25,000 publishers, authors and agents had been set to attend the event.

Before it was announced that the event was not going to take place, attendance was set to be underwhelming, with publishers and rights agencies pulling out of the event over the last week. Among those withdrawing were HarperCollins, Penguin Random House and Amazon.

Reed said: “We have been following UK government guidelines and working with the rolling advice from the public health authorities and other organisations, and so it is with reluctance that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with this year’s event.”

Reed had previously advised exhibitors to avoid shaking hands, stay one metre away from each other, and to ‘book an enhanced cleaning/sanitisation regime for your stand.’

Many in the industry were angry that Reed had not taken the decision earlier, as it forced publishers and agencies to deal with the issue themselves, which could potentially cause losses of hundreds of pounds in hotel and transport fees, which could be devastating to small publishers. Critics also pointed to the fact that other book industry events due to take place in March, including the Salon du Livre in Paris and the Leipzig book fair, had been cancelled.