Last year, volcanic ash spewing down from Iceland limited the number of attendees to The London Book Fair. This year, no such impediments exist, and the 2011 Fair opened today, with more than 23,000 people from the international book publishing industry expected to attend. Each year at the conference, upcoming books are publicized, and subsidiary and translation rights are bought and sold.

 It’s a whole new chapter in the publishing world, given the increased sales of ebooks and a rise in the number of electronic reading platforms, from Apple’s iPad to Google Books. Indeed, the Fair, which will now cover “all things digital,” featured a one-day digital conference yesterday where the evolving question of global ebook distribution was discussed, among other topics.

Liz Thomson of BookBrunch reported last week on the global rights issues that have been intensified with the growth of ebooks. Traditionally, subsidiary and translation rights have been licensed to publishers in specific territories. Now, with global distribution an option, many publishers have the option of distributing directly into territories that were once difficult to reach without licensing the rights.

Also today, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania announced the launch of its global, all-digital publishing arm, Wharton Digital Press, which joins a growing number of new digital publishing initiatives, including TED Books, Seth Godin’s Domino Project and The Atavist.

Wharton Digital Press has partnered with Constellation, a service of The Perseus Books Group, which offers digital services for independent publishers, including ebook distribution and sales and digital print-on-demand. The Press will publish ebooks, enhanced ebooks, mobile apps and print books available through print-on-demand technology. Directed to a general business audience, the Press’s areas of interest include management and strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship, finance and investment, leadership, marketing, operations, human resources, social responsibility, business-government relations, and more.

According to Wharton professor Stephen J. Kobrin, publisher and executive director of the new press, “Wharton Digital Press and its authors will be true partners in a very innovative global digital publishing venture. Together with our readers we will establish a community to share bold and insightful thinking and help managers meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.”