Cover Stories: London Book Fair; Bloomsbury; David Blunkett

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The Independent Culture

The London Book Fair's move to the ExCeL centre, in Docklands, proved unpopular with overseas publishers, who like to feel that a trip to London puts them at the beating heart of the city. The queues for something as simple as a coffee need attention, and a problem with car-park technology resulted in a log-jam of limos. As usual, the event gave publishers the chance to parade some of their more headline-grabbing offerings - the Baywatch star David Hasselhoff, who was all but mobbed, and Pete Burns, "star" of Celebrity Big Brother, among them. Puffin, which visited upon us the children's fables by Madonna, breathlessly revealed the debut of Kylie Minogue (above). The Showgirl Princess is meant to inspire would-be showgirl princesses of six and up. Puffin says the book "brims with positive messages", but this is the sort of project that, not long ago, it would not have touched with a bargepole.

* Nigel Newton, Bloomsbury boss and now chair of World Book Day, has been using the platform with relish (eg, urging a boycott of Google). This week, he was railing against publishers who publish pale imitations of Bloomsbury's two most successful brands, Harry Potter and the Schott miscellanies. But Bloomsbury's publication of Anna Pasternak's ghosted memoir of Princess Di's ex-lover, James Hewitt, was a far nastier cash-in. And what about this week's reports that Bloomsbury editor-in-chief Alexandra Pringle has splashed out £1m on the "sensational" autobiography of Gary Barlow of Take That? Is that really the best Bloomsbury can do with its Potter millions?

* At the fair, the rumour was that Bloomsbury had - via agent Ed Victor - splashed out again on the memoirs of David Blunkett. But since Blunkett won't apparently be writing about affairs of the heart or dishing the dirt on Blair, will anyone buy it? Maybe Bloomsbury needs the tax loss.

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