Sharing Experience, Expectations: Book Fair Directors Meet in Mexico

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

In their biennial meeting, a dozen leaders of international book fairs gathered in Guadalajara to discuss their progress, challenges, and evolving viewpoints on the book trade.
The Conference of International Book Fairs directors attending this month's biennial meeting in Guadalajara were photographed by Josue Nando.

The Conference of International Book Fairs directors attending this month’s biennial meeting in Guadalajara were photographed by Josue Nando.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Trading Trends and Tactics: A Collegial Setting
According to DataFolha, Sao Paolo’s 23rd Bienal Internacional do Livro was attended by 720,000 visitors, 35 percent of whom were between 26 and 40 years old, and 66 percent of whom have college degrees.

  • By contrast, another fair having its 23rd outing, the International Book Festival Budapest, drew 62,000 visitors, exhibitors from 28 countries, and the participation of 210 publishing houses from Hungary alone.
  • That number 23 again: it’s how many countries participated in the 2015 iteration of Sweden’s Göteborg Book Fair, which had 84,715 visitors, 809 exhibitors, and 63 companies and agents in its international rights center.
  • From Turkey’s 35th International Istanbul Book Fair, information that the country’s book output rose 10.6 percent between 2014 and 2015, and the International Publishers Association’s ranking of Turkey as 11th among the world’s leading publishing markets.
  • From Frankfurt Book Fair, word of new initiatives including the 2016 fairs new ARTS+ program, an inaugural StoryDrive Asia conference in Singapore, and Book Fair’s new majority stake in the IPR License rights platform.

This is the kind of information exchanged at the 12th Conference of International Book Fair Directors, which closed its four-day series of events this week in Guadalajara.

The conference is an independent gathering of international book fair organizers who work together to promote books, reading and the publishing industries in their regions and in other parts of the world.

The mission is to give these colleagues a chance to discuss ideas and challenges, share experiences and learn from each other in a supportive atmosphere. To participate, the fairs must have international profiles and be focused primarily on the trade, with attendance by publishers, literary agents, scouts, booksellers, wholesalers, and translators in their events.

As Guadalajara International Book Fair representative David Unger puts it, the book fair directors’ initial conversation included updates on each event’s progress since its last meeting in 2014 at Frankfurt.

The group then, Unger says, was on to debate about various topics, including

  • Ways to innovate and create new resource models in a fast changing book and media market;
  • How to find and finance new projects; and
  • How to locate new customers while making sure the traditional customers are treated well and supported.

“Other ancillary issues discussed,” says Unger, “included Guest of Honor or Market Focus situations: problems and challenges; book fair to book fair partnerships; attracting talented team members and how to keep them; making partnerships with outside groups and institutions; and resolving conflicts of exhibition dates.

2016 Directors Attending
  • Marisol Schulz, Guadalajara International Book Fair Director
  • David Unger, Secretary General, Conference of International Book Fair Directors
  • Juergen Boos Director and Marife Boix-García, VP,  Frankfurt Book Fair
  • Pedro Rapoula, Director, FILBO,  Bogota
  • Oliver Zille, Director, Leipzig Book Fair
  • Elena Pasoli, Director Bologna Book Fair
  • Aldona Zawadzka, Manager, Warsaw Book Fair
  • Eszter Szabó, Fair Manager, International Book Festival Budapest
  • Lin Liying, Director Mgmt. Office, Beijing International Book Fair
  • Sunay Girgin,  Tuyap Fairs and Exhibitions Inc. Project Group Manager Istanbul
  • Mansur Bassitt, Executive Director, Camara Brasileira do Livro, Sao Paulo
  • Maria Kallson, Director, Goteborg International Fair
  • Jorge Gutierrez, Manager, Buenos Aires International Book Fair.

The 2018 conference location has yet to be announced.

Publishing trade fair directors enjoy a meal together during their Guadalajara conference sessions.

Book fair directors enjoy a meal together during their Guadalajara conference sessions.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. Prior to that he was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, a channel at The Bookseller focused on digital publishing. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.