After two years without the International Book Fair due to the pandemic, Buenos Aires closed a historic edition this Monday, with record participation. More than 1.3 million people have crossed the doors of La Rural in the last 19 days to participate in the great Argentine book festival. It is 30% more than in the 2018 and 2019 editions, when a million people had attended. Sales also picked up: between 10% and 20%, according to the main publishing labels.
“We were very excited because it was the return fair. Illusion and anxiety, but what happened really overwhelmed us, it surpassed everything we imagined. It’s Monday and you can’t believe the amount of people. We couldn’t be happier”, responds Ezequiel Martínez, director of the Fair.
“The lack of the fair was noticed. This is a classic cultural event in Buenos Aires and it was very noticeable that this meeting with the authors, the book signing, the possibility that independent bookstores show their catalog and many other rituals around the fair were missing. People rushed to a cultural appointment that was missing, ”adds Martínez.
The director of the Fair also defends the debate that the writer Guillermo Saccomanno opened with his incisive opening speech. “It is very good that it has triggered a discussion and not boos,” he says, referring to the criticism that Saccomanno launched against the editorial production system and the fact that the Fair is held on the premises of an institution that he accused of having been “instigator of the military coups that assassinated writers and destroyed books.”
The publishing sector has suffered from the loss of purchasing power of Argentines since the economic crisis of 2018, which was aggravated by the covid pandemic. The last five years were marked by significant declines in the production and sale of books. “Despite the frenzy and euphoria of the organization and its billing expectations, our present is not very festive,” he warned in his speech Saccomanno. However, the recovery recorded in this edition is a breath of fresh air for publishers and bookstores in the country.
The good sales figures have been accompanied by other positive news: the great presence of young people in the corridors of the Fair. They were the majority at the International Meeting of Bookfluencers and also massively attended presentations of youth books and topics such as climate change, feminism and sexual diversity.
As had happened months ago at the Guadalajara Fair, the one in Buenos Aires allowed the reunion of writers from all over the continent after two years of virtual talks. Alejandra Costamagna, Roberto Apprato, Mercedes Güiraldes, Selva Almada, Carolina Sanín, Katya Adaui, Diego Payares, Marcial Gala, Diego Manso and María Negroni were some of the guests at the ninth edition of the Dialogue of Writers from Latin America. Literature as a form of resistance, affective relationships and modernity, the fears and taboos faced by those who write and the figures of mothers, fathers and children in literature were the subject of debate over three days.
In total, there were almost a thousand cultural events in the halls of the exhibition center and nearly 4,000 authors signed copies of their books. The writer of romantic novels Florencia Bonelli, the trans novelist Camila Sosa Villada, the Peruvian Nobel Prize winner for Literature Mario Vargas Llosa and the ultraliberal economist and deputy Javier Milei were some of the stars of this edition, with presentations to a full house and an audience that was left out. without being able to enter.
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