Just maybe it would be better if emerging markets fair organisers simply encouraged people to enjoy books because books are so enjoyable.
When one thinks of Arab book markets Algeria tends not to be top of the list, but in fact Algeria is home to one of the largest public-facing book fairs in the world, that in pre-pandemic times would regularly draw crowds of over two million.
That’s unlikely to happen this year, of course, but it will be great to see the Algiers International Book Fair back on track, assuming it goes ahead.
Italy will be Guest of Honour, an arrangement chased up in November during an Italian state visit to Algeria, but it’s anyone’s guess what sort of turnout we will see at Algiers next month.
Some Arab fairs have done surprisingly well in the past few months, notably those that have a strong digital presence and a strong digital element to the event.
Held at the Palais des Expositions in Algiers, this year’s fair theme is intriguing – “The book: A continent”, but slow internet here is not letting me connect to the Algiers IBF website to find out more right now.
Per press release, some 800 publishers are expected to be present, focussed on Arabic and French language books.
Also per the press release, there are no fees this year, in order to:
Promote and develop cultural production, to encourage readability, to achieve sustainable development goals based on building the human being and creating a new awareness that guarantees the values of citizenship and cultural justice and consolidates the civilisational identity of the Algerian people.
Even allowing for the shortcomings of auto-translate that’s quite a mouthful and reminds me of a point I often make here at TNPS: that just maybe it would be better if emerging markets fair organisers simply encouraged people to enjoy books because books are so enjoyable.