A recurring topic here at TNPS is the rise and rise of global book fairs and festivals, as the proliferation of smartphones and social media allows booklovers across the planet to share information about books and literary happenings.
As the prestigious London Book Fair got underway last month the headline here at TNPS was
While all eyes are on the London Book Fair this week, in the thirty days either side of the LBF over 13 million people are visiting book fairs around the globe.
13 million people attending book fairs and festivals over sixty days?
Actually the figure will probably be a lot higher. For example, I totally forgot to include the Palestine International Book Fair, which began Thursday, May 3. And for most events, I simply haven’t been able to track confirmed numbers yet.
But as I said in that post,
…With the occasional exception of weather-impacted events like Casablanca (which typically attracts 350,000 but it snowed in Morocco this February) and Bangkok (floods, as above) there is a clear upward trend in visitor numbers, volume of books sold and value of books sold at these events.
Just how much of an upward trend struck home to me this evening when I belatedly came across the final visitor numbers for the Casablanca IBF in Morocco back in February.
They were expecting 350,000, but with extreme weather I naturally assumed the numbers would be down this year.
I was wrong. This evening I came across a communication from the Kingdom of Morocco’s Ministry of Culture and Communication which confirmed the event saw a 50% increase in visitors this year, up from 350,000 to 520,000.
That’s over half a million people turning out in freezing weather for a book fair in Morocco, a country where conventional wisdom has it no-one is interested in books and reading.
For comparison, the Edinburgh Literary Festival, one of the biggest book events in the UK, averages 66,000 visitors.
Just for clarity, while I mentioned the sixty-day window for the 13 million book fair visitors, the Casablanca IBF happened in the preceding two months of 2018, where as many again – and probably a lot more – booklovers descended on book fairs and festivals in lands where supposedly no-one buys books.
Which means, as I said in the above-tagged post,
that by the time Book Expo New York rolls around in late May, not even half way through the year, an absolute minimum of 25 million people around the world will have visited book fairs and festivals, spending many millions of dollars on many millions of books in the all but invisible markets where supposedly nobody reads.
The global book market is so much bigger than you think.