Per TNPS coverage over the weekend, a government decree barring public meetings of more than 5,000 people had reduced the cancellation of the Paris Book Fair to a formality.

The expectation was an announcement would come Monday, but in fact the announcement came Sunday, and confirmed the TNPS view that the government decree left them no option but to cancel.

The only surprise here is that there will be no attempt to shift the event back, as happened with Bologna, and the next Paris Book Fair will now be in 2021.

Barring some miracle we can expect this week to see the London Book Fair either cancelled or postponed, and the Bologna organisers who optimistically pushed back the event until May, now just nine weeks away, will no doubt be wishing they had left the dates open.

With the Coronavirus spreading rapidly across the Middle East the up and coming Riyadh and Abu Dhabi International Book Fairs are now on the danger list, and its inconceivable at this time that the Tehran International Book Fair will go ahead.

In the UAE a decision was taken to close all nursery schools, so the future of the 2020 Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival is also bleak.

Belgium’s Brussels Book Fair, Poland’s Poznan Book Fair, Turkey’s Bursa Book Fair, Germany’s Leipzig Book Fair, Thailand’s Bangkok Book Fair, Turkey’s Izmir Book Fair, Romania’s Timosoara Bookfest, Egypt’s Alexandria Book Fair and Canada’s Quebec Book Fair must all be considered at risk.

And that only takes us through until mid-April.

UPDATE: Since this post went live the following events as aforementioned have been cancelled: London, Leipzig, Bangkok, Timosoara, Sharjah, Tehran, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

Even if the current pandemic scare fades by summer the global publishing industry is going to be seriously impacted this year, and that’s before we even begin to tally the material cost as consumers stay – or are forced to stay – at home. In China some bookstores are reporting catastrophic 90% drops in sales.

2020 promises to be a year like no other.