Aldus’ New Report Updates Europe’s Book Fair Map

In News by Porter Anderson

From Sofia’s upcoming 45th anniversary fair in December at the Palace of Culture to Vienna’s ‘Long Night of Books’ ahead in November, the Aldus network’s 2017 report looks ahead and behind to evaluate the European book fair scene.

At Milan’s Tempo di Libri in March, a spacious rights center. Image: European Book Fairs Facts and Figures 2017, Aldus

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

‘Changing the European Landscape’
Among so many things announced and launched during the Frankfurt Book Fair, this month, one new offering had to do expressly with just that: the world’s biggest book fair, and many others.

The Aldus network‘s European Book Fairs Facts and Figures 2017 report adds snapshots of four more events than were in the report last year. These are welcome additions to this always useful compendium for those who are studying their international rights strategies and how those plans can be supported by various festivals’ offerings:

  • Göteborg Book Fair
  • Liber International Book Fair
  • Madrid Book Fair
  • Milan’s Tempo di Libri

As Publishing Perspectives readers know from our past coverage, the Aldus organization’s core network comprises a group of 13 signal industry-related events in Europe, and those fairs include the Milan fair:

  • Frankfurt Book Fair
  • Bologna Children’s Book Fair
  • Tempo di Libri (Milan)
  • Antwerp Book Fair
  • Bookfest (Romania)
  • Lisbon Book Fair
  • London Book Fair
  • Riga Book Fair
  • Rome Book Fair
  • Sofia International Book Fair
  • Thessaloniki Book Fair,
  • Vienna International Book Fair
  • Vilnius Book Fair

At Rome’s book fair, coming this year in December at Convention Center La Nuvola. Image: European Book Fairs Facts and Figures 2017, Aldus

‘Transnational Mobility’

The network’s founding organizations are primarily publishers’ associations interested in seeing, as the organization puts it, “transnational mobility of European literary works and book professionals.” It has the support of funding from the Creative Program of the European Union.

The programs involved here are of two kinds and varying mixtures of those two: B2C or business-to-consumer fairs which primarily present content to the public, and B2B trade shows, which are centered around rights trades and other business-to-business constructs.

New this year, and extremely helpful is a summary chart that provides comparative elements among all the fairs, each of which is first studied in a separate snapshot. While split between Pages 36 and 37 of the report, a quick print of those two pages makes it easy to see that this chart allows us quickly, for example, to discern, among other things:

  • The astonishing leadership of the consumer-facing Madrid Book Fair in sheer numbers, drawing a reported 2.4 million visitors to its 35,000 square meters and 480 exhibitors—its nearest contender for attendance is the Frankfurt Book Fair, with this year’s 286,425 visitors (an update since the Aldus numbers were prepared shortly before Frankfurt opened)
  • The relative intimacy of another Spanish event, the professionally geared Liber International Book Fair that reports 9,786 visitors in a spacious 25,000 square meters
  • The profound lead in exhibitors of the Frankfurt Book Fair, with 7,150 listed exhibitors
  • The concentrated focus of the Riga Book Fair with its 80 exhibitors and 16,800 visitors to this public-facing show with a professional program
  • The presence of fellowship programs at six of the fairs
  • And the fact that of 16 fair events gathered in this revealing breakdown, only seven actually have rights trading centers which are so integral to the reflections of the international business that many of these events provide us annually

In Lisbon, the parkland setting of a fair that draws more than 500,000 to its June run. Image: European Book Fairs Facts and Figures 2017, Aldus

‘Relations With Readers’

In the Aldus administration’s opening commentary for the report, there’s an interesting note of how, “As digital technologies are changing the European landscape, book fairs are called to transform their formats, by focusing on new ways to increase literature promotion at the international level, capacity-building and helping book professionals to seize the opportunities that digital technologies offer to establish new relations with readers.”

This is exactly it. Fairs and trade shows encouraging reader engagement and stressing the new centricity of this mandate that results directly from the communicational rush of a suddenly mobile-driven world.

And alongside this turn to the customer in search of market traction, are always the charm of localized responsiveness to communities of consumers and readers.

  • In Antwerp, for example, the fair opens Sunday (October 29) with a “Literary Tattooshop” among its new offerings this year, which also include a kitchen designed by Dutch and Flemish celebrity chefs.
  • One  of the better known events of the year, Bologna features both a rights center for agents and a licensing hall.
  • Bucharest’s May-June fair welcomed Sweden as Guest of Honor this year and more than 400 events.
  • Göteborg Book Fair in Sweden is the foremost venue for trading in Nordic literary rights, “the industry’s largest representation of publishing companies, agents and authors from the Nordic region.”
  • Liber, the smaller fair in Madrid, features a “micro initiative” to support small pulishers, entrepreneurs, and startups.
  • Lisbon’s fair, while welcoming international exhibitors, has as its core mission, “promoting Portuguese authors and publishers” and is held in Parque Eduardo VII, a pastoral setting perhaps unique among the Aldus network of fairs.
  • London Book Fair’s extensive seminar program in 2017 reached a total 220 seminars and events at Olympia London and arranges its halls, “like a giant bookshop,” by sector, as its organizers describe the design.
  • At Thessaloniki, more than 500 Greek and 50 foreign writers and 400 publishers from 30 countries were on hand in May, with 94 of its 640 exhibitors from outside the country.

There’s much more to discover and assess in the Aldus report for this year. Its overview can provide a map to rights directors, vendors, publishers, agents, and scouts, as its service to the international industry deepens with each new iteration of its annual information.

Image: European Book Fairs Facts and Figures 2017, Aldus


About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.