In Tbilisi, Georgia Plans World Book and Copyright Day Online

In News by Porter Anderson

On April 23, the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association expects to stream a busy World Book and Copyright Day program.

At the 2020 World Read Aloud Day in Tbilisi on February 5. Image: GPBA

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

‘Uniting Our Forces’
In Tbilisi, the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association chair Gvantsa Jobava has announced that the organization will take its World Book and Copyright Day observances online on April 23, rather than canceling.

“We don’t think that a global pandemic is enough reason to make us give up on this give up on this tradition,” Jobava says with her characteristic flair.

The organization, well-known in international publishing circles as one of the most ambitious based in a smaller market, is vowing that, “All events related to this day in Georgia will be completely transferred to the online space.”

The association maintains a list of thousands of subscribers, and expects to offer that audience a wide range of features on the 23rd, including:

  • Real-time sessions with high-profile authors
  • Presentations of books created in coronavirus self-isolation
  • Children’s activities
  • Results of surveys
  • The conclusion of an ongoing literary quiz
  • An “online limited book fair”

Reporting a lot of enthusiasm for the project from Georgian publishers, Jobava says the Georgian Copyright Association is engaged in support of a television show for teens called Bookshelf and another such project, TV School, involving illustrators as well as authors and translators.

One of the reasons that Georgian publishing players are concerned about arranging a World Book and Copyright Day event this year is that the date has real tradition in that market, having been observed there for 17 years.

Some Background on World Book and Copyright Day

Gvantsa Jobava gives an interview during the 2020 World Read Aloud Day event in Tbilisi. Image: GPBA

A UNESCO proclamation approved at the agency’s Paris general conference created World Book and Copyright Day 25 years ago, in 1995, choosing the April date, as the proclamation’s text reads, “as it was on that date in 1616 that Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare, and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega died.”

As more recent writings from UNESCO point out, the date is also that of the birth or death of Maurice Druon, Haldor K. Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla, and Manuel Me3jia Vallejo. So if your author friends look slightly nervous on April 23, you may want to cut them some slack.

“We decided to shift online, to stay strong and give an example to our partners and our society: crisis gives us huge opportunities for innovation.”Gvantsa Jobava, Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association

The concept of the annual event was simple, “to promote and disseminate books” with “the organization of events such as book fairs and exhibitions on the same day.”

And, in line with UNESCO”s new #LearningNeverStops program—which Publishing Perspectives covered earlier this month—this year’s World Book and Copyright Day is being positioned, of course, to call attention to the fact that, as the agency writes, “at a time where most of the schools around the world are closed and people are having to limit their time outside, the power of books should be leveraged to combat isolation, reinforce ties between people, expand our horizons, while stimulating our minds and creativity.”

One message coming from the world body will no doubt please the team behind Scholastic’s biennial Kids & Family Reading Report by echoing the 2019 study’s message about the importance of reading aloud in families. “During the month of April and all year round,” UNESCO is writing, “it is critical to take the time to read on your own or with your children.

“It is a time to celebrate the importance of reading, foster children’s growth as readers and promote a lifelong love of literature and integration into the world of work.”

And this is reflected in the media messaging from Jobava—who is also an executive committee member of the International Publishers Association.

“Today, people all over the world are under conditions of mass isolation and are choosing the book as one of their main means of survival. A book is where we go to seek answers to dozens of our questions. Books connect us to each other and, even more, to the entire world.

“That’s why we decided to shift online, to stay strong and give an example to our partners and our society: crisis gives us huge opportunities for innovation.

“I’m sure that in uniting our forces, we’ll be able to cope with today’s challenges and successfully celebrate this day.”

Keep an eye on the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association site for more details on the upcoming World Book Day program.

As for the 22nd Tbilisi International Book Fair, scheduled for May 20 to 31, the organization says it’s “aiming to make the final decision” about whether to go forward “as close to the final date of the festival as possible, which would most probably be by the end of April.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Georgian market is here, and more from us on the coronavirus pandemic is here.

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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.