A book fair is a meeting point for the many kinds of people associated with books—publishers, authors, readers, distributors, retailers. Since these people usually work in relative isolation, a book fair provides the opportunity to meet, discover and discuss the latest developments in the field in that part of the world—the latest way of publishing, a new and popular genre of writing as well as to see which stalls do the most business, which reveals the readership, current trends, and the like.
A trade book fair is one in which only companies of the industry participate and showcase the latest developments and trends, network with other professionals, get publicity for their work and see what the competition is doing as well. A trade fair is open only to professionals in the industry and representatives of the companies. A consumer book fair is one that is open to the public.
The oldest book fair in the world is the Frankfurt Book Fair, which dates back to the 15th century, when Johannes Gutenberg from Frankfurt first invented movable type. This was the central and undisputed European book fair city until the 17th century when political upheavals began. Later, in 1949, the early Frankfurt book fair tradition was given a new lease of life with 205 German exhibitors exhibiting in the first post-War book fair. The present Frankfurt Book Fair starts counting its official duration from this date, so that its event in 2011 is the 62nd one.
Here are some of the most important international book fairs coming up this year. The first list here is of events planned for February and March 2011. Further lists will include book fairs planned for the rest of the year.
- Cairo International Book Fair, Cairo, Egypt: 29 January—8 February 2011
Organized every year, starting in the last week of January, by the Ministry of Culture and the Egyptian General Book Organization this fair is open for trade and to the general public. This event started from Al-Gezira grounds in Cairo in 1969 so it is one of the world’s oldest fairs, in its 43rd year in 2011. Last year, 31 countries and 800 publishers (majority Egyptian, then Arab, and 62 foreign) participated in the fair. It draws about 2 million visitors every year. Website: http://www.cairobookfair.org
- Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE), Taipei, Taiwan: 9—14 February 2011
The TIBE is called “the gateway to Asian and Chinese book markets” and will have its 19th event in 2011. The fair is open to trade and public. In 2010, 58 countries and 883 exhibitors participated. The TIBE is one of the largest book exhibitions in Asia with publishers from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and European countries participating every year. TIBE 2011 will have more international publishers and writers and more in-depth events for publishing professionals including the Asian Publishing Forum, Digital Publishing Forum, Librarian’s Workshop, Children’s Literature Forum, Book Design Forum, Editor’s Workshop, and Translator’s Workshop. Website: www.tibe.org.tw
- Vilnius International Book Fair, Vilnius, Lithuania: 17—20 February 2011
The 12th international Vilnius Book Fair will be conducted in the Lithuanian Exhibition Centre LITEXPO, Laisves pr. 5, Vilnius. This distinctive feature of this fair open to trade and public is the abundance of cultural events, especially meetings with well-known Lithuanian and foreign writers. Every year, the Vilnius Book Fair highlights one concrete topic. This time the topic is ‘Literature without frontiers, the links between culture and politics’. The topic is dedicated to the 100th birth anniversary of the Polish writer-poet and Nobel Prize winner Czesław Miłosz. The fair also commemorates the 100th death anniversary of the Lithuanian artist M K Čiurlionis. This anniversary is included in UNESCO’s list of important dates in 2011. In 2011, 200 companies will visit from 10 countries. Website: http://www.litexpo.lt/en/main/index
- Jerusalem International Book Fair, Jerusalem, Israel: 20—25 February 2011
This fair, in its 25th year in 2011, is a biennial event open to the public. It draws around 1200 publishers from more than 40 countries. It is known for its Editorial Fellowship Program, which invites a promising, talented editors to meet and exchange ideas with their contemporaries at the fair. The JIBF has launched a similar program now, for literary agents. Their website claims that many of their editorial and agent alumni have gone on to prestigious and influential positions in the publishing field, and several return each year to meet and mentor new ”fellows”. Another important event is the Jerusalem Prize awarded to a writer whose work best expresses and promotes the idea of the ”freedom of the individual in society”. The Jerusalem Prize has been awarded to five writers who have also received the Nobel Literary Prize. Website: http://www.jerusalembookfair.com
- Dublin Book Festival, Dublin, Ireland: 4—6 March 2011
The Dublin Book Festival, which is open to the public, “brings together the best of Irish publishing, for both established and upcoming authors” says the fair’s website. Irish poets and authors will gather to celebrate Dublin’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. Author events will be held from 2–6 March, in a variety of venues throughout Dublin, including the National Library of Ireland, The Gutter Bookshop, Cube at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin City Libraries and, as with previous years, Dublin’s City Hall. Website: http://www.dublinbookfestival.com
- Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, Abu Dhabi, UAE 15 – 20 March 2011
The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair offers the best access to industry professionals and key market players in the Middle East and North Africa. This year, the fair will conduct its 21st event with the market focus being Korea. In 2010, the fair had 840 exhibitors, half a million titles on display and 236,000 visitors, including publishing professionals and the general public. There will be events like author lectures, book signings, poetry performances by local and international poets and a live daily cooking show. Another unique ADIBF offer is a programme subsidising translation deals. Website: http://www.adbookfair.com
- Paris Book Fair, Paris, France: 18—21 March 2011
This fair, called Salon du Livre in French, is said to be the most important cultural event in Europe and will conduct its 31st this year. The venue is the Exhibition Centre at Porte de Versailles, Paris. While the event is open to the general public most of the days, the morning of March 21, from 9 am to 1 pm, is for trade only. While copious events are planned, the focus this year will be on Nordic literature (authors from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland will be present). Talking of numbers, 914 exhibitors will participate in 2011. There will be a phenomenal 2118 book signings, 116 conferences and events. It’s clear that this is the book fair to not miss in Europe. Train, air and hotel fares will be lowered to allow more people to attend the event. More than 2 lakh visitors make it to the fair every year. Website: http://www.salondulivreparis.com
- Bangkok International Book Fair, Bangkok, Thailand 25 March – 6 April 2011
The Bangkok International Book Fair is called the hub of book markets in South East Asia. It had 1.5 million participants and 423 exhibitors from 19 countries in 2010. The fair will conduct its 9th event in 2011 and is open to both trade and general public. Website: http://www.bangkokibf.com
- Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Bologna, Italy 28 – 31 March 2011
The Bologna Children’s Book Fair, in its 48th edition in 2011, is the only international marketplace exclusively for the children’s publishing and multimedia industry. The website says, “Authors, illustrators, literary agents, licensors and licensees, packagers, distributors, printers, booksellers, and librarians meet to sell and buy copyrights, find the best of children’s publishing and multimedia production, generate and gather new contacts while strengthening professional relationships, discover new business opportunities, discuss and debate the latest sector trends.” About 1300 exhibitors from 67 countries and 4763 international professional trade representatives participated in the fair in 2010. This is a fair open to trade only. Website: http://bolognachildrensbookfair.com