It's a good question and over the years we have realised that it means different things to different people.
The people we work with usually have a few different deadlines to hit some of them are months in advance when they ship books direct from a warehouse and others might be within a week or so before set up. We know that a lot of planning goes in to getting everything ready and that sometimes things overrun or are added in which means they miss that deadline.
It's a last minute thing because we know that before a book fair everyone is tight for time and needs as much help as they can to work on those important must haves. It's a service designed to take the worry out of getting everything out there, helping you avoid carrying extra baggage on to planes and escaping the last minute expense of overweight bags.
It's also a shared (unless you need to book out an entire van) service. We might be working with people that you know or are in the same part of town as you and it's very much an on demand service. We only charge you for what we collect whether that's one box or one hundred and fifty of them.
If you think you might pushing your deadlines you can book with us in advance and cancel or confirm much closer to your fair or even pick up the phone on collection day when you realise that you have too much to fit in to your suitcase.
As a rule of thumb we leave for a book fair on the last working day before set up closes. That means for Frankfurt we collect on a Monday, for Bologna on a Friday and London again on a Friday. We are always in the halls during the morning of set up and will probably have your boxes on your stand before you arrive from the airport, train station or car park.