Coronavirus Impact: Europe’s Aldus Report Reveals Book Fair Changes

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Cancellations, postponements, and other adjustments to some of Europe’s biggest book fair events—so far known in the pandemic—could affect more than 6,500 exhibitors in 2020.

At Madrid Book Fair 2019. Image: Aldus Network

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

A Potential 2.8 Million Book Fair Visitors Affected
In the past, the team at the Aldus European Book Fairs Network has provided world publishing with good assistance in understanding the relative activity, size, and scope of leading book fair events in Europe.

And this year’s report “Facts and Figures” report is as useful as ever, providing comparative data on everything from the physical scale of each fair—from Napoli Citta Libro’s 3,800 square meters to Frankfurter Buchmesse’s 160,000 square meters–to exhibitor participation, the presence of professional programming and guest-of-honor events, and levels of international participation.

At Publishing Perspectives’ request, however, the staff has also provided a snapshot for us of announced changes in programming for the 19 member-fairs of the network.

As discussed on Wednesday, more and more book fairs, literary festivals, and trade shows are working to develop effective digital alternatives to the physical-fair norm. It’s no easy task, of course, in that what’s really needed is fit-to-purpose online evocations of the various events, rather than a simple “Zoom it!” approach. How much the world’s presenting bodies can learn during the pathogen’s constraints will be useful in many ways beyond the industry-damaging term of the pandemic.

So we’re glad to be able to give you today (May 14) this look at the impact on the scheduling factors of book fairs that are member-entities of the Aldus network. (Rather than making you wrack your memory for this, the name of the association is a reference to Aldo Manuzio, a humanist and a publisher of the 15th century.)

In considering the following news, remember that myriad smaller regional and localized fairs and events are being affected, as well. The Aldus cohort functions as a collection of flagship events in the European theater of book fairs.

COVID-19 Impact to Date: Aldus’ European Book Fairs

A map of the Aldus network book fairs in Europe. Image: Aldus

In compiling attendance at last year’s events listed below, the changes we list here could affect as many as 2,811,946 potential visitors.

Were exhibitor counts to remain at the levels of these fairs’ 2019 performance, this year’s changes can be expected to impact 6,580 exhibiting entities.

London Book Fair

  • Cancelled in 2020
  • Originally planned for March 10 to 12
  • Next iteration: March 9 to 11, 2021

Bologna Children’s Book Fair

  • Postponed, then canceled in 2020
  • Originally planned for March 30 to April 2
  • Postponed to May 4 to 7
  • Digital edition mounted May 4 to 7
  • Next iteration:  April 12 to 15, 2021

Napoli Città Libro

  • Postponed to the autumn
  • Originally planned for April 2 to 5
  • Postponed to October 8 to 11

Thessaloniki Book Fair

  • Postponed to the autumn
  • Originally planned for May 7 to 10
  • Postponed to October 29 to November 1

Salone del Libro di Torino

  • Cancelled
  • Originally planned for May 14 to 18
  • Next iteration: Dates not yet announced

Bookfest Romania

  • Cancelled in 2020
  • Originally planned for May 27 to 31
  • Next iteration: Dates not yet announced

Madrid Book Fair

  • Postponed to the autumn
  • Originally planned for May 29 to June 14
  • Postponed to October 2 to 18

Lisbon Book Fair

  • Canceled
  • Normally held in May and June dates
  • Next iteration: Dates not yet announced

Several fairs of the Aldus network are set for late in the year, and we anticipate hearing more about those events going forward.

At Bookfest Romania 2019. Image: Aldus network

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Aldus program is here, and on book fairs overall is here. More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.

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.