Industry Notes: International Book Fairs Eye COVID-19; Italy’s 18App Is Funded

In News by Porter Anderson

London Book Fair goes ahead on schedule as international publishing events grapple with exhibitor, attendee worries about COVID-19.

At London Book Fair 2019. Image: Porter Anderson

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

Note: Since this story was published, Bologna has announced a delay to May 4 to 7 of its fair, amid an Italian outbreak of COVID-19. Our story is here.

COVID-19: London Book Fair
Keep in mind that we’ll see almost immediate Coronavirus impact on attendance and delegate activity at international conferences, trades shows, book fairs and festivals. Of course, travel to and from China itself is sharply restricted.  And some colleagues are simply worried about international travel amid concern about the contagion’s spread.

London Book Fair (March 10 to 12) is expected to see a lower presence from our Asian markets, of course, but Reed Exhibitions’ intention is to move forward on schedule.

In a special note now posted on the trade show’s site, the company offers a series of points for travelers in particular (and for anyone contemplating mingling with large crowds, especially in international settings). You can find this useful notification, by the way, with any updates that may be added, in the Help section of the site.

We’re quoting here from the statement:

  • The London Book Fair will run as scheduled
  • We are monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation carefully and regularly
  • Our current status with regard to the COVID-19 virus remains unchanged: the health and safety of our exhibitors, visitors and staff is our number one priority
  • We strongly urge our exhibitors and visitors to refer to the guidelines and protocols as suggested by the WHO ( and the UK public health authorities regarding the virus
  • If you have any concerns that you may get caught up in an inbound or outbound quarantine, or are feeling unwell, you may want to reconsider your attendance at the event
  • We are following local and national public health closely. Dependent on national health guidelines, measures typically include:
    • Public Health messaging displayed and shared before and during the event
    • Strengthened hygiene, sanitization, availability of disinfectants

It’s also being pointed out by London’s organizers that everyone may want to be cordially careful about handshaking around the event this year. It’s also a great idea to consider carrying your own supply of hand sanitizer products.

Much of the guidance from health ministries and organizations does indicate than an abundance of caution in hand-washing and other such activities is the right course.

From our own travels so far this season, we can tell you that you’ll see more face masks in place.

London’s organizers remind exhibitors that they “may wish to book an enhanced cleaning/sanitation regime for your stand and you may want to consider having extra sanitizing gel/wipes for buyers coming to your stand.”

COVID-19: Taipei’s Postponement

The announcement below is from the Taipei International Book Exhibition reflects the situation, the entire program, as you may know, having been delayed from its original February 4 to 9 dates. It now has an expected run of May 7 to 12.

Image: Taipei International Book Exhibition

In making the decision to delay the program, Taipei’s organizers have reported that Taiwan’s ministry of health and welfare hasn’t yet imposed restrictions on conventions or assemblies, but exhibitors expressed concern.

“Also,” the show says in its messaging on the subject, “parents are unlikely to bring their children to the fairground as the children’s area will be held in Hall 1 for the first time. Furthermore, international exhibitors as well as authors have gradually canceled their book fair schedule.”

In going forward later in the spring, the show’s statement says, the ministry of culture and the fair’s foundation “will assemble a specialized team to ensure the rights and interests of all exhibitors and readers. This specialized team shall also organize complete contingency measures for the postponement.”

Publishing Perspectives invites organizers of international conferences, trade shows, book fairs and festivals to contact us with news of COVID-19 related changes or messaging.

AIE Reports Italy’s 18App Is Safe This Year

In Italy, the “cultural bonus” for citizens turning 18 appears to be getting full funding again this year, encouraging teens to read and visit cultural sites. Image: At Milan’s Gallerie Vittorio Emanuele II. iStockphoto: iPhotographer 62

There’s good news from Rome today (February 20). As you may recall, earlier reports from the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) indicated that the government was considering cutbacks in the so-called “18App” cultural bonus for its citizens turning 18.

The bonus traditionally provides €500 to each 18-year-old to be used on “strictly cultural experiences” and has turned out to offer a valuable boost to the books trade.

While the publishers of the AIE were worried that a reduction was in store, AIE chief Ricardo Franco Levi today has notified us that the 18App will be again re-funded at full measure for those born in 2001.

“The 18App not only helps to support the cultural industry,” says Levi in a prepared statement, “but it’s also an important piece of the past to make the reading growth policy in our country. For this you need to ensure that all young adults have the chance to spend it in the future.”

That reference to the future, of course, is the catch now. While this year’s governmental budget allocation seems secured, the battle will resume for ensuing years.

The AIE reports that in 2018, the 18App was behind some €132.4 million in sales. In 2019, that figure was only slightly down, at €131.5 million.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Italian market and news from its publishers’ association is here. More on international book fairs and other programs is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter

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.