We’re just a few days away from the Seoul International Book Fair, which kicks off in South Korea June 20-24, in a five day event expected to draw a crowd of 300,000.
Add that to the 700,000 attending Bookfest Malaysia and we’re already looking at our first million booklovers attending literary fairs and festivals this month in countries outside the US/UK axis that many authors and publisher believe is the only show in town for book sales.
So just how is June shaping up in the international book events calendar?
First a reminder of the parameters.
At this time of year there are an untold number of book fairs and festivals happening in the US and UK, selling an untold number of mostly print books, the total volume of which are completely invisible to the stats counters like Data Guy, yet collectively these numbers add up to significant sales that paint a far more vibrant picture of the US and UK markets than some would have us believe.
But the remit of TNPS is the international book scene, and so for the purposes of this survey we set aside the countless book fairs and festivals happening in the US and UK to take a look at the global literary scene in June 2018.
Here’s how it’s shaping up.
First, let’s take a look at the spillover from May. That is to say, book events that began in May but finished in June. For this survey I take the total visitor numbers where available and assume an even day to day attendance, and then count up the portion of the total that would have happened in June.
Take Portugal for example.
We all know that Portugal isn’t worth a light when it comes to selling books. Why, there’s not even a Kindle Portugal store. Obviously the Portuguese don’t read.
Or just maybe Amazon is missing a trick here. After all Portugal has ten million people and eight million of those are internet users. But if they don’t read…
But here’s the thing. The Lisbon Book Fair ran this year from May 25 through June 13.
A twenty day book fair in a country that doesn’t read?
Well, you might argue, if they could drag in 100 people a day that’s 2,000 visitors.
Hmmm. Try 26,850. No, not total. Per day.
Seriously. The 2018 numbers haven’t been declared yet, but if Lisbon 2018 ran to expectations as per previous years then an average of 28,850 people attended the book fair each day.
And as thirteen of those days happened in June we’re looking at just shy of 350,000 people in Lisbon attending at the Lisbon Book Fair this month.
Sounds a lot? You ain’t seen nothing yet, as they say.
Because May-June is when Iberian booklovers have their fun, and running almost simultaneously with the Lisbon event, in neighbouring Spain, the Madrid Book Fair began May 25 though to June 10.
Same routine. Let’s divide the total attendance across the event and see approximately how many attended in June.
So how does 150,000 grab you. No, not over the sixteen day event. Each day.
Yes, if Madrid 2018 ran to expectations 1.5 million people will have attended the Madrid Book Fair just this month.
Last year books to the value of 8.8 million euros were sold. Over a sixteen day even that’s an average of 550,000 euros ($639,000) of books being sold each day. All untracked by the stats counters that tell us how big the global book markets are.
Three of the six days of the Nordic Literature Festival happened in June, so we can grab 12,500 visitors from the 25,000 that usually attend and add them to our June tally.
And we can grab 25,000 as half the typical 50,000 that attended the Sofia International Book Fair in Bulgaria, since half of that event happened in June.
Then comes the Bucharest Bookfest, which ran May 30 through June 3, giving us 4 of 5 days in June, so 60% of the typical 100,000, adding 60,000 to our June tally.
That takes us just shy of 2 million booklovers attending book events in June outside the US/UK and we still haven’t finished with the first week!
The Abidjan Book fair in Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa, ran into June, but no numbers yet for that.
But we do know the Tbilisi Book fair in Georgia regularly attracts 50,000 visitors, and as the event ran May 31 through June 3 we can reasonable allocate 3/4 of those to the June tally. Let’s say 37,500.
As it happens, June is a relatively quiet month on the international book scene, and this year all the quieter thanks to trade union unrest in Brazil which has caused disruption to the Brazilian book festival calendar.
To that we can add the Bookfest Malaysia event and the Seoul International Book that I opened this post with. That adds respectively 700,00 and 300,000 visitors to the tally.
I’m no doubt missing many more significant international book events this month, and many slightly smaller events, such as the Kaling Literary Festival in India (June 8-10) but I’ll end with one event worthy of special mention – Big Bad Wolf Sri Lanka.
No visitor numbers yet, but other Big Bad Wolf events regularly attract many hundreds of thousands of visitors, so we can safely say that even though BBW Sri Lanka only covers the last three days of June (and continues for eight days into July) we are looking at June total of book fair attendance outside the US/UK to be somewhere between 3nd 4 million.
Not bad going for a quiet month.
The global book market. It’s bigger than you think!