Book fairs continue to be an essential driver of the publishing business
The 2016 IPA Book Fair Report looks at some of the world’s standout fairs, and asks the people behind them how they will stay ahead of the curve
In an age of video conferencing and digital networking, book fairs are a real-life moment that brings publishing people together. Relationships are formed, contracts signed and hands shaken. Moreover, book fairs open a window on the publishing world, capturing public interest and drawing the attention of a media more concerned with publishing's products than its mechanics.
In 2015 the International Publishers Association (IPA) released a special report on the Future of Book Fairs, asking if they still bring value to modern publishing. The report found that book fairs are still the engine that keeps the wheels of publishing turning. In an age of video conferencing and digital networking, book fairs are a real-life moment that brings people in publishing together.
Relationships are formed, contracts signed and hands shaken. Moreover, book fairs open a window on the publishing world, capturing public interest and drawing the attention of a media more concerned with publishing’s products than its mechanics.
The 2016 IPA Book Fair Report looks at some of the world’s standout fairs, and asks the people behind them how they will stay ahead of the curve. The report is designed to help publishing professionals understand the evolution of book fairs and to guide their organizers towards an ever better performance of an essential service to publishers and publishing.
What are book fairs?
All book fairs are not the same. Some are heavily consumer slanted, others more for publishing professionals. But whatever their target audience, their common goal is to showcase authors, books and brands, and connect suppliers with buyers. For example, the Salon du Livre de Genève, one of the francophone world’s leading book fairs, is almost entirely geared towards consumers. Effectively, it is a vast two-day bookshop, with retailers and publishers selling their wares side by side. Authors give presentations and speeches, but its broad purpose is to win the attention of a French-speaking public and sell books. Many fairs are hybrids, staging trade-only days before granting access to the public. Professional book fairs are, in essence, a marketplace where literary agents pitch titles to publishers and rights are traded. In addition, trade book fairs commonly offer seminars and debates on industry trends and a programme of social and networking encounters.
Many countries have at least one book fair that serves as a rights marketplace on a national, regional or linguistic basis. For instance LIBER, in Spain, and Guadalajara, Mexico, prevail in the Spanish-language publishing industry, while Beijing, Hong Kong and Taipei lead the Chinese market. In the Arab World, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai are all growing in stature, while Cairo is the oldest and still the largest. In 2015 the IPA asked its members what their must-attend book fairs were, and the results were clear: Frankfurt, London and Bologna consistently lead the field in terms of attendance, content, facilities and services. Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s biggest international trade book fair and a world hub for the rights business. It generates extensive media coverage every year, offering publishers an excellent platform to announce book deals and innovations. London Book Fair is the largest spring fair and another very important forum for rights acquisitions. And the Bologna Children’s Book Fair is considered the most important for children’s literature.
Most visited book fairs by professionals 2014:
- Bologna / BookExpo America
- Beijing / Sharjah
- Abu Dhabi
Most visited book fairs by professionals 2015:
- BookExpo America
- Gothenburg (Göteborg)
- Moscow / Seoul / Taipei
- Delhi / Istanbul