By Edward Nawotka
BUENOS AIRES: We’re currently in the midst of the Buenos Aires International Book Fair — better known to Spanish-speakers as the Feria del Libro. The event, which lasts for three weeks and draws in more than one million visitors, accounts for fully 25% of revenue for Argentine publishers each year. Increasingly, it is also of importance to the international community. This year, featured exhibitors were invited from throughout South America, as well as Germany, Cuba, Spain, the United States, and countries as far away as South Africa and Israel, while several foreign rights managers from — from Netherlands, Germany, the UK and elsewhere — met with potential clients as well.
In addition to celebrating the book fair, Buenos Aires has been newly inaugurated as the World Book Capital for 2011 by UNESCO. No other city is as deserving, as Buenos Aires hosts 200 bookstores, 70 libraries, and scores of kiosks. There are books for sale on what seems to be every corner in in the capital and there may be more books per sale per capita than perhaps any other city in the world.
The confluence of the Fair with the inauguration as World Book Capital was “a blessing,” says Gabriela Adamo, the Feria del Libro’s executive director, “but no accident.” She notes that Argentines take their books very seriously and nowhere on earth are you likely to see such a broad selection of philosophy, psychology and political titles from a such a wide range of schools of thought. “We translate many titles into Spanish that other publishers might overlook,” says Adamo. “And what’s even more important — people read them.”
Argentina’s literary community has been going from strength to strength in the past year. Last October, Argentina was was the Guest of Honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair, an event that resulted in more than 200 Argentine titles being translated into German and spurred numerous additional translation deals. “The goal was to put Argentina back on the map of the worldwide literary marketplace,” said Juergen Boos, Frankfurt Book Fair Director, last week in Buenos Aires. “We feel that has been successfully achieved.”
In order to take advantage of the continued global attention on Argentina, several innovative projects were announced at the Fair, including a new digital rights platform for Argentine publishers, a cross-cultural program to promote a day of “bibliodiversity” across the Spanish-speaking world, and MICA, a new fair for the cultural industries — all of which we plan to cover in detail over the coming months.
Additional information about the 2011 Buenos Aires Book Fair is available on our news blog. Additional stories can be found in our archives, including:
Argentina, A Nation of Offbeat Writers, Exquisite Publishers
TYPA, Argentina’s agency for connecting writers and foreign editors
In Argentina E-books Are Sexy (But You Can’t Find Them Anywhere)
The Forthcoming Argentinian E-book Market