Let’s hope the industry has learned the real lessons of the pandemic beyond the mere survival of the industry – that digital is more than just a safety net, and that if embraced rather than demonised digital can deliver a stronger, more resilient and more profitable publishing industry that can give consumers genuine choice in what, how and where they consume publishing products.
The largest trade event in the Spanish-speaking world, the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL Guadalajara), will be online this year as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc with the traditional book fair calendar.
Set to run November 28 through December 6, the online event will give the FIL Guadalajara organisers an opportunity to reach new audiences, both at home in Mexico and worldwide.
Marisol Schulz, director of FIL Guadalajara, said:
We decided to bring the fair to everyone through our website, social media, and the television channel owned by the University of Guadalajara. What is most exciting is giving the audience, from anywhere in the world, the ability to enjoy the fair for free.
The event will be scaled down, for this year at least, as the online version is still at an experimental stage, and there will be around 300 online events rather than the 3,000 physical events of yesteryear, and there will be no Guest of Honour. Sharjah was scheduled for 2020 but that will now happen in 2022.
An online catalogue of more than 90,000+ books from 1,000 publishers will be accessible, with links to retail points in 24 countries.
In October we learned from PublishNewsES that the online Costa Rica International Book Fair had been rescheduled to run simultaneously with the Guadalajara Virtual International Book Fair and the Guatemala Virtual International Book Fair IBF. It’s not clear if any synchronicity has been arranged beyond the dates. More on that if and when things become clearer.
The Guatemala International Book Fair will run November 27 through December 3, while the Costa Rica International Book Fair will run November 26 through December 6.
Meanwhile the 13th Quito International Book Fair 2020 will also be online this year (9-13 December), reports PublishNewsES, with
a digital platform that will have 80 stands for publishers and other stakeholders, 160 guest speakers, and a children’s and youth pavilion in which around 60 motivational reading activities will be developed.
The fair will have virtual rooms in which around 130 activities will be held, including book presentations, talks, talks, round tables and other events.
The conceptualisation, content and agenda of FIL Quito Virtual 2020 is curated by the writer and editor Santiago Vizcaíno Armijos, in coordination with the José de la Cuadra National Book and Reading Plan.
The virtual format will allow citizens of Ecuador and the world to be reached, who will be able to access the pavilions and events programmed for the FIL Quito Virtual 2020 from different mobile devices.
The recurring theme across events like these, as book fair organisers pivot to digital, is the extra audience reach a virtual event can offer, both in the domestic market and around the globe.
The expectation of course is that somehow things will be different in 2021, and everything will return to how it was in 2019. But with the best will in the world the vaccines currently being launched in various parts of the world are only going to reach a fraction of the planet’s population, and that’s always assuming these vaccines can actually perform in real world conditions outside controlled lab experiments, and that the virus doesn’t evolve in tandem.
Back in March 2020 few people in the publishing industry gave a second thought to the possibility the pandemic might still be with us as the year ended, let alone surging to new levels.
Let’s hope the industry has learned the real lessons of the pandemic beyond the mere survival of the industry – that digital is more than just a safety net, and if embraced rather than demonised digital can deliver a stronger, more resilient and more profitable publishing industry that can give consumers genuine choice in what, how and where they consume publishing products.