Carrying an extra suitcase to Frankfurt Book Fair doesn't make sense.

We’ve said it for years, it’s the core of our offer that you shouldn’t need to carry that extra case with you just before a major fair. So you can probably imagine how delighted we were when an email came in with the following text:

“After packing, carrying and getting annoyed about an extra suitcase to the past bookfairs, your offer sounds like a perfect alternative.”

It makes sense to let us do the lifting, carrying and driving. With that said you might still be a little nervous about handing over those precious, hard worked on last minute items that you need for your meetings. If it helps you feel more comfortable about working with us we are always happy to come along and say hello face to face giving you a chance to get to know us, decide whether you like us and can trust us enough to get your last minute material to your stand.

As an alternative we’re happy to put you in touch with people that have used Book Fair Vans in the past and you can ask them directly what it was like to work with us.

Feel free to leave a comment below, email us or call 020 3287 4198 and we can take it from there.


The questions people ask us.


As we get closer to each book fair that we work on it’s fair to say that we get emails or phone calls asking us to answer questions that people have and that’s fine we are always happy to answer them and find out a little bit more about the people who are asking.

We have realised that we are probably not making it easy enough for you to find out about us and in an attempt to do something about that we thought a blog post with answers might just help.

If you can’t find the answer to yours on this post do let us know,  we can answer it for you and then add it to the blog in case someone else needs that answer another time.

What do you do?

We run a late van service for publishers and associated companies that exhibit at trade fair like Frankfurt, Bologna and London.

The people we work with tend to have a problem getting material to their stand when the know or have realised that it won’t be ready until the last minute and it is either too heavy or there is too much of it for their staff to take to a fair themselves.

Recently we have noticed that we are taking more material for publishers who have a smaller presence at a trade fair, usually with one or two people working from their stand or simply accessing the fair as a visitor.

We also work with people who gear their production processes to be ready just in time

What do you carry?

Typically it’s a mix of catalogues, dummies, presentation material and graphics for peoples stands. It’s also included Computer equipment, boxes of wine, the MD favourite chair, the office coffee machine, mints, chocolate, stuffed toys, boxes of meeting notes, gift bags, virtual stand hosts and portfolio cases.


We time our departure to offer people as much time as possible to get every ready that they need on a stand.

For Bologna 2014 we are leaving central London at 14:30 on Friday 21st March and arriving at the fiera Sunday 23rd March with delivery to stands from 09:30.

Frankfurt 2014 we see us leaving central London on Monday 6th October at 14:30 arriving at the Messe on Tuesday 7th October with delivery to stands from 10:00.

What does it cost?

We work on a simple per kilo price which means that you only pay for what you send out to a fair with us. There is no minimum number of boxes or weight to worry about which means we are happy to take that one box that you have.

 We would expect to finalise our charges for Frankfurt by the end of July 2014. Please feel free to email us and we will let you know as soon as the rate is confirmed.

How much for cash, how much for an early booking, how much for trade, fire sales and “I’ll call you the day before you leave to check how much unsold space you have.”

It’s not how we work and the answer is always a polite but firm no.

When do I find out how heavy my boxes are.

The glib answer for this one is usually “When you try to lift them!” but the real one is that we weigh all your boxes as we load into our vans and we will tell you how many boxes you have given us and their total weight. We will confirm that with an email to you on the way to the fair and we always ask you to sign for your boxes when we collect and deliver.

Can you leave later?

The honest answer is that we can’t.

We work to the last possible minute to get your boxes to the show and we have a responsibility to our other customer and BFV staffers to make sure we arrive in good time and are making sure that we allow enough time to do the job in a safe way.

More or less boxes than I said I would have.

We have designed the service to work on an on demand basis so if you have been good enough to give us an estimate of boxes before we arrive and you have over or underestimated it’s not a problem we’re happy to take whatever it is you have ready for us.

If you charter an entire van from us we work to a maximum load which is governed by the weight that the van can carry and that is usually 1500kg.

How do we keep in touch on the journey to a book fair?

All our vans carry mobile phones (and someone other than a driver to answer them), internet connection, tracking via Glympse and email access. Do ask us for details if you would like to keep in touch on the run to a book fair.

Proof of Delivery.

We use a proof of delivery system called Workmobile which means that we don’t rely on a paper based system , that said we do run one as a backup. Workmobile lets us book in the amount of boxes we collect from you, record a weight for each and captures a signature.

When we deliver to your stand we will ask for a signature, remind for the amount of boxes and take a photograph, just to be safe. If you are not on the stand when we arrive we will ask your contractor to sign and get their name as well again just to be safe.

The signatures, photos and boxes weights are available for you to see either online or via email, which ever you would prefer.

Return journey’s

We regularly survey our clients to find out whether we can offer them a return service and it seems that just over 85% of what we deliver to peoples stands either returns to London with a contractor, is donated to one of the book charity's or is left behind and this makes it uneconomical for us to offer a return service.

What do you need from me?

Usually very little, we don’t ask you to fill out forms and sign your life away at a time when you’ve got more that enough to do, without us adding to the workload. We like to know how we can reach your or your colleagues at the fair, what time you are arriving in the hall, who we should send and talk to about our invoice and a rough idea of what’s in the boxes. That’s about it.

Labelling Boxes

Our journey to a book fair does not involve your boxes being processed through multiple depots however just to be safe we recommend you follow the label conventions set out by the fair you are exhibiting at for example:

Bologna Book Fair

Your stand contact

Your hall and stand number

Bologna Children's Book Fair

Piazza Costituzione, 6

40128 Bologna


Frankfurt Book Fair

Exhibitor name, hall and stand number

Frankfurt Book Fair


Ludwig-Erhard-Anlage 1

60327 Frankfurt am Main



London Book Fair

Your stand contact

Your hall and stand number

London Book Fair

Earls Court Exhibition Centre

Warwick Road


SW5 9TA.


What does it cost to book in with you?

We run a list of people who have asked us to speak with them, usually a day or two before we leave for a fair to see whether or not they are going to need our help. We will never charge someone for being on a list of people that might need help and in fact we’d rather know about what you might need in advance and find out that you don’t need us closer to departure.

If you would like to book in with us and confirm closer to a fair email us at and we can go from there.

I’m outside of London can you still help us?

We regularly have people contact us who are outside of London that need help. We always try our best to help them particularly when they reach out at the last minute. The best route to getting your last minute material to your stand is to send us an email or have a conversation with us by calling 020 3287 4198. We can usually find an answer and give you clear deadline times and costs involved. Because of the distances and time involved we won’t be able to offer collections on the same day as we do with our London collections but we usually find a way to give you a full day to get ready the day before.

Can we get a reference from you?

We are lucky enough to have people that we have worked with over the years who have volunteered to offer us a reference or testimonial and we are happy to introduce you to them. We usually prefer to have a short conversation with you about what you might need to send out to a fair to make sure you end up talking to someone who has sent a similar amount of boxes to make sure you get an accurate experience of working with us.


The 7 Ps


Way back in the mists of time that my youth seem to be obscured in I had the pleasure to work in a small family business run by a lovely man who spent a good few years in one of the forces and was fond of dropping the odd military adage or two into conversations. One that I often heard but didn’t really understand was “the 7 Ps.”

Years later in a much different environment of a much much larger national business with a set of owners from a venture capital background I came across a poster on display in my new bosses office which featured “6 Ps.” Mindful that I had moved from the mid 80’s and a family business to the middle years of the Blair government and a corporate world I didn’t ask what happened to the missing P but simply said yes “The 6 Ps.”

Whether there are 6 or 7 of them I’m not sure it matters but here at the garages we believe in “proper prior plans prevent poor performance”. Pretty much as soon as the paperwork is finished and all our kit is squared away from one book fair we spend time planning our run to the next one. It’s a process of reviewing how our last run compares with the plan we wrote for it and other plans from previous trips. Tweaks or adjustments are suggested and discussions happen across the team before we write up the final plan and announce our service dates to people we know and the wider world through this site.

It all means that when we sit in a meeting with a client and talk about their deadlines we’re confident we can handle the issue that surface particularly when we’re talking with people who have long supply lines and just-in-time production processes. It’s also really handy a few days before a fair when the phone goes and we’re talking, hearing that catalogues haven’t arrived and you’ve missed your freight shipment or those dummy’s need to be reworked and your team will be working all the hours god sends.

The planning makes the last minute nature of what we do possible and without it we’d be lost, just like that missing P.

How did that happen?

There's just a chance that when ever you left the office on Friday or over the weekend everything seemed under control and your Monday was looking organised and calm.

If that pile of must take last minute material, late graphics, or catalogues has started to grow past the point where it fits in your suitcase or you can manage to carry it on and off the plane, our advice for what it's worth is to carefully pack it in a box, stick a label on it with your stand details and get in touch with us.

Tyron, Ruth and Daniel are  out in central London, collecting from people who have already booked in and they would be happy to help you out. Prices are a simple £2.75 per kilo and we only charge for what we collect.  

Delivery to your stand is the following morning and chances are that we'll have your boxes to your stand before you get to the Messe and certainly no later that lunchtime.

Call  020 3287 4198 or email and we can go from there.



Posted on October 6, 2013 .

Everybody knows everybody in Publishing

It's our experience that the people we have got to know are a friendly bunch who know lots of the people that we work with as well, we like it like that because although we only only work with people two or three times a year that friendliness helps us pick where we left off and makes life a lot easier all round.

When it comes to working with us for the first time we understand it can be a little but of a leap of faith, handing over that hard worked on last minute material. We've heard enough horror story's over the years about what's happened to those catalogues that never made it into the hall but at the same time if you don't know us how genuine does our " We always deliver on time" sound to you?

If you're stuck with material that you can't carry out to Frankfurt we'd love to help you and maybe the best thing for us to do is to introduce you to some of the people we know and let you ask them what it's like to work with us at the last minute.

If that starts to make sense do get in touch and we will start the hello's . Drop us a line or call 020 3287 4198

Coming to a town near you

We're delighted to announce that our really last minute service is reaching out from it London base for Frankfurt 2013.

If you are based in Bath, Brighton, Cambridge, Cheltenham, Chichester, Lewes, Oxford, Reading and Swindon we now offer you the chance to enjoy collections on Monday 7th October with delivery to your stand the next morning.

We hope to offer more areas as we get closer to Frankfurt and will make announcements on our site as new locations are added but we're always happy to hear from people who think they might need last minute help in areas that we have not listed.

To find out more, suggest another area or book in with us please call 0203 287 4198, email or tweet us @thebfv


What we're doing this summer

What we're doing this summer

Whilst the rest of the team have headed off to various parts of Europe for the summer Dan has decided to get involved with a new event at London Olympia called Business4Better.

If you are planning to visit on the 9th or 10th July do say hello 


Posted on September 18, 2013 .

Last date for Bologna Shipping


With just under three weeks to go before Bologna Book Fair opens you and your colleagues are probably working flat out to hit your advance shipping date. 

Just in case something won't be ready until the very last minute we can still help you get it to your stand. You will find our collections running up to midday Friday 22nd before we head south of the channel to make sure we start our delivery's in the hall from 9am on Sunday 24th.

We're a service that's all about wringing every possible minute out of a deadline and we aim to make it a simple and painless as possible. Our rates are never more than £4 per kilo with no minimum fees or weights meaning you only pay for what you send.

If you think you might need help after your advance shipment has left we'd love to talk about how we can help. To start that conversation simply call 020 3287 4198 email or tweet us. It never hurts to have a back-up plan.


Boxes to Bologna

Bologna Childrens dates poster.png

We have to admit that there is more than a little rock n roll in some of the staff here at The BFV.

Jason still plays in a band, Ruth might just be our version of Robin Sparkles because she won't talk about her musical past, Daniel was a roadie and Tyron drove for a minor boy band .It's a problem making a play list for the trip but what we all agree on is that getting your last minute material through France and in to Italy is just like a short tour, vans, gear and motorway service stations. 

We think you are all pretty clued up or have people around you who have handled the odd book fair or ten, so you've already booked in with people who go in advance which means getting everything ready to leave at least one week in before the fair opens. But when something needs longer because it just does what happens then?

Book in with us and we will still get it to your stand for the morning of Sunday set up on the 24th and you've got yourself covered just in case because everyone has "Boxes to Bologna ..."

Nationwide collections 21st March with a special offer.

Central London Collections 22th March.

To find out more call 020 3287 4198, email or tweet us.

Tags Bologna Book Fair Last minute delivery to Bologna Book Fair #BCBF13 Really last minute delivery to Bologna Book Fair Boxes to Bologna Central London Collections for Bologna Book Fair Nationwide collections for Bologna Book Fair


Free collection outside of London for publishers exhibiting at Bologna Book Fair.


If you are a regular visitor to this blog you already know that Book Fair Vans works hard to provide a delivery service just for publishers going to European trade fairs and prides itself on wringing out as much time as possible on the run up to a trade fair like Bologna without blowing a huge hole in your budget.

Bologna is no exception with our service leaving central London at midday on Friday 22nd March arriving at your stand during the morning of Sunday 24th, leaving you with plenty of time to unpack, set up and look forward to a quiet pre- show evening out on the town. We charge £4.00 per kilo no minimum weight or spend which means you pay for what you send.

Book Fair Vans is pleased to announce that this year we’re able to extend our free collection service outside of the London publishing community and help you whether you are in Brighton, Bath, Edinburgh, Oxford or anywhere else on the UK mainland.

We are keen to make working with us as simple and as transparent as possible, it helps you with time and keeps costs down and will definitely give you more time to get everything ready that you need for your four days in Bologna, so in that spirit of simple and transparent this is what we would like to offer you.

The internet is chocked full of online parcel services operating in the UK most of them aggregators like ParcelMonkey and Parcels2Go, there are others and you might already know them.

The two we’ve mentioned offer a next day by 12pm service meaning that you can book collections for Thursday 21st that will arrive with us the next morning in time to catch our departure. The rates that we’ve found show that you can send a parcel on the next day service weighing up to 25 Kilos and measuring 50cm x 50cm x 50cm for around £15.00 including vat. Many of the options include tracking and proof of delivery which helps.

We think is a pretty good deal, we certainly couldn’t send you one of our vans and staff for anything close to that price and we don’t believe in charging extra for filling out a web form and sending you a few emails about your parcel, it’s easier and cheaper if you book it directly with the supplier.

If you decide to send us your last minute material this way we will be more than happy to take that £15 cost off your bill with us and we’ll also refund the same amount if you already have a courier that you work with. If it turns out that you need to send more than one parcel the same thing applies, we’ll refund that as well. 

Once it with us we’ll book it on to our POD system, weigh it so you’ll know how much it’s going to cost, email or call to say it’s arrived safely and get it on with the journey to Bologna . We can also show you how we are doing on the journey by share our where via Glympse.

We hope that’s simple and transparent but we are very happy to have a quick conversation with you on 020 3287 4198 or by email if you have any questions.


Dates for Bologna Book Fair 2013

With the country firmly in the grip of delay inducing ice and snow the attention of BFV staffers at the garages seem to have drifted towards the third week in March and the hope of some warmer weather and blue sky days on the run down to Bologna.

For those of you who already know that you and colleagues are going to be up against it we are offering collections up to midday on Friday 22nd March in central London and we promise to get to your stand during the morning of Sunday 24th, leaving the rest of the day to get it unpacked and in the right place on the stand.

As ever we stick by our no minimum weight policy and belief that we offer a cost saving alternative to the major branded express shippers or a time stretching option compared to the  low cost operators whose deadlines are days or weeks in advance of the fair.

If you think you might be up against a tight deadline we're happy to talk on 020 3287 4198 by email or pop us a tweet @thebfv


Frankfurt 2012 – We are leaving later to give you more time to get ready.

Frankfurt 2012 – We are leaving later to give you more time to get ready.

We’re sure that you all have Frankfurt Book Fair dates marked on your calendar, highlighted on a wall chart and just in case anyone had forgotten and needs reminding you’ve added it to your email signature as well.

So no one needs us to tell you that it’s happening between Wednesday10th to Sunday14th October. We didn’t think so…

One date we would like to share with you is Monday 8th October. We can take a wild guess and say that it might be your last full day in the office before heading out to renew your relationship with a patch of the Messe that is forever (well at for 6 days anyway) yours. It’s also the day that we are leaving for Frankfurt to renew our relationship with European roads and the wide open spaces that surround each hall at the Book Fair.

Collections will happen up to lunchtime on the 8th with delivery to your stand during the morning of 9th in time for you to arrive from the airport and get ready to unpack all that hard work that has become your last minute, must have material for the stand.

We’ve made the change to offer you as much time as possible to get what you need ready and shipped without having to persuade people in your teams to make do with two less pairs of shoes in their suitcase, suffer the effort of carrying extra luggage to and from various check-in desks for overweight baggage and avoid the costs of using big name courier services.

Nothing else has changed. We are still proud to the people that only charge you for what you send, without a minimum weight or asking you to fill in forms that mean you second guess exactly how much you need to send out weeks in advance of having it all ready. You can still track you boxes and find out who signed for your delivery if you’ve not arrived at your stand when we do.

If you would rather have us come and see you, like we have for a good few year on Friday 5th, because Monday doesn’t work for you,that’s fine just ask. We’re happy to help whenever you’re ready. Change doesn’t always work for everyone and we wouldn’t want to put you through it if you don’t need the extra time.

To get started call 020 3287 4198, email or tweet @thebfv and we’ll go from there.


Beam me up Scotty

The sale of Edvard Munch's The Scream has made taken plenty of column inches over the last few days.

We suspect that during the next few week many of us will strike a Munch like pose and scream inwardly at the injustice of a deadline that doesn't work. That conversation, memo or email about when you have to be ready might just be the worse thing about the run up to Bologna Book Fair.

It's probably because we are the last people out of London to a Book Fair that we get to find out how much pressure people are under to get their last minute material completed. Some conversations have been about working to deadlines that have a little slack in them, another implied that colleagues in teams working on the show seem to think that there is a secret delivery run that involves a conversation with Mr.Scott and the Enterprise teleporter team.

Whether you favourite Montgomery Scott is the original James Doolan or Simon Pegg and his recent re-creation of the role we'd happly sign them up for a show or two, but one is sadly no longer with us, the other, we suspect would cause a budget problem and his Scottish accent really worries some of us at the bfv.

All this got us thinking. What do you do?

Do you give a deadline out to others and keep a little something up your sleeve or take Aaron Neville's advice to "Tell it like it is" and run the risk of others thinking that you've kept a little bit back because that what always happens.


A Bookshop in a Van.


We came across this little van before Christmas and being lovers of small Italian three wheelers we had to stop, hide our van envy, take a snap and have a chat. 

The resourceful owners are @Rye_Books who have a shop in SE22 and regularly send the van to markets, schools and other events which we think is a great way to reach out to book buyers and broaden a customer base.

After talking we found out that the van will take a 700 kilo load which is pretty impresive considering it's size and the need to have shelving to hold the books.

If you would like to know more about Rye Books or enquire about the van email


Posted on September 18, 2013 .

Tyron Goes to Frankfurt

Just like you we all talk about what we do with our friends. BFV staffers get lots of positive interest when they say "I've just got back from Bologna or Frankfurt". On the face of it why wouldn't we? Of course those of you who end up working on a stand know the reality of attending a trade fair, too much work, not enough hours in the day, hotel rooms that blend into one and let’s not forget Wi-Fi that never works in the way it should, strange meals in restaurant that don't match the reviews and an intimate knowledge of the city you are in as long as that's on your route from hotel to hall and back again.

It's fair to say that we get a lot of unsolicited offers of help from people that we all know or meet to come along on our next trip. Once we have explained how tough the work is, how long the driving days are, how much manual labour is involved and how little time there is to shop most withdraw with good grace however the odd few make it onto a list of people we can call on. 

Tyron is one of those rare people that did. Known to several of us at Book Fair Vans he fits with our policy of working with people that we know, like and trust so when we needed some extra help with London collections for Frankfurt last October he moved from the list to working with us.

After a day of visiting clients he headed back to BFV garages thinking in his own words that “This was easy" and not quiet understanding what "All the fuss was about.” Those of us who have done the odd trip or twenty to Frankfurt thought his comments were a little glib not to say premature as he had done the easy bit when his last insistence overlapped with an incoming call from a client needing another van and driver to get there under-estimated load to Frankfurt he gamely volunteered to drive out.

480 miles later in one day he arrived at our hotel telling everyone he could how tough a day he'd had and to be fair to Tyron it was a tough one, a late departure, delays on Eurotunnel and foul weather between Liege and Frankfurt was more than a baptism of fire for anyone.

As the evening went on, just like the fisherman and the tale of the one that got a way, the weather got worse, the delay longer and as for the time he left London well let’s just say he come close to making a fully loaded van travel quicker that a F1 car round the Nurburgring which he is sure he lapped on the way. All this was very entertaining but it was topped the next day when the business of unloading and dropping to stands happens with Tyron deciding that he simply couldn't walk round the Messe without wearing his sunglasses.  

You can imagine the looks from the stand contractors as Tyron arrived to deliver consignments! Suffice to say he took it all with good humour and he's firmly on our list of people to work with because he delivered and repaid our trust.

You might be wondering about the picture, we couldn't persuade him to pose for a picture and this is the best likeness we could find, oh and its got sunglasses as well Tyron….

Tags Last minute delivery to Frankfurt Book Fair Frankfurt Book Fair Last minute delivery to Bologna Book Fair Bologna Book Fair Tyron goes to Frankfurt


We Know you Trust us and we'd Like to Prove it.

When we get back from a book fair and have finished everything that needs to be done, we sit, meet and talk about what we might need for the next one. One thing that kept cropping up on everyone lists of things to do was a proof of delivery system (POD).

We are meticulous with making sure we know what we picked up, how much it weighs and where it needs to be delivered to. Our system works and perhaps more importantly we don't want to ask you to spend time filling in forms, completing faxes or replying to stacks of emails, we don't like doing it and suspect you feel the same. From what you have told us forms seems to lack a human touch and a level of personal service that we feel goes against what we believe we should do which is getting what you need to a book fair at the last minute with the minimum amount of fuss.

While a POD system is on everyone's list of things to do it has caused a great deal of discussion and the odd heated debate or two because too many systems needed to significant change how we work with you.

After some testing on live projects we have found something that works the way we already do meaning that from Bologna Book Fair this year we will be asking you to sign on your drivers mobile phone when we pick up your boxes. In the hall we'll do the same and if we are leaving your boxes with a contractor or third party we will take a photo as well so you can see where they were left.

Photo's and signatures can be emailed to you on a opt in basis as well as other information that we capture like the weight of each box we collect and delivery. Knowing who signed for your boxes when you get to the stand might just help if you can't instantly see them and remind that person that they did take them from our driver.

The system is able to do plenty of other things as well as take signatures and photos. Each pick up and delivery can be location tagged and if like many of our clients you work with other departments who have different budget lines for a book fair we can provide you with a complete list of everything that was sent to your stand and even send a separate invoice to other departments or individuals.

If you would like to know more about the system or want to see a demo us do let know.


Coffee Cups and Bologna

We know that it's still 4 months away but we thought a few pics from the bfv coffee cup archive might help those of you who enjoy the extreme caffeine (and carbohydrate) diet that Bologna offers every March.

Posted on September 18, 2013 .

Well, I feel so homesick I wanna go home.

Just like Johnny Cash says, after days of back to back meeting on your stand, receptions, drinks party's and dinners we'd feel homesick too..

Whilst it realtively easy for you to get home, you've probably got just enough energy to check out of your hotel and head to the airport, getting all those books, dummy's and presenters back might not be.

We know that some of you manage to get a lift back with your contractor or give books away to charity. Last time we checked over 80% of you said that you left most of what you take in Frankfurt.

Just in case that's changed with everyone watching their budgets it seems to make sense to ask again and if enough of you do want a economical way of getting getting home we will happly run a return service this Frankfurt.

As always with Book Fair Vans this will run as a pay for what you send service, no minimum charges of 100 kilos, no separate charge per kilo to deliver it from a warehouse that you don't own to your London office just a flat rate.

If you're still wondering why Johnny Cash and not the Beach Boys, it's the bongos and that feeling that when Johnny signs it you believe it. Not that we think you do anything too wild in Frankfurt.  And us? Well we might back a van up to the gates in hall 8 or sneak a few boxes up in the passenger lift up to 4.2, honest that's it.

If you want a return journey or just a one back from your stand leave a comment here or email us.

Posted on September 18, 2013 .