“The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.” -T.S. Eliot
If the world were a fabric, literature would be it’s binding thread. At the very core of literature’s purpose is empowerment. Books, magazines and journals provide us with the unique opportunity to exist and connect on a global platform. One might argue that digital media is gradually replacing print media. But that argument holds true for a small, and might I say, privileged section. Till today, print media is the only source of knowledge and information for a huge portion of the world.
That is why, book fairs and literature festivals are an extremely important component for the community! Book fairs around the world celebrate authors from different genres and backgrounds and provide an equal footing for anyone who wants to tell their story in their own way. In some countries, these festivals are also a means of income for local artistes and craftsmen. In many developing countries such as India, community libraries and local book fairs are a refuge from poverty, lack of educational resources and a gateway to a better world.
Here’s a compilation of 12 of the best book festivals around the world.
45 years in the running, Cairo’s Book Fair is the oldest and biggest book fair in the Arab world which draws nearly 2 million visitors every year. In 2016, they had 755 publishers from 24 countries. Despite protests from extremist groups, this book fair is still up and running and continues to be an example of fair trade.
The London Book fair was formerly known as the The Specialist Publishers Exhibition for Librarians (SPEX). It spanned from a librarian’s trade show into the world’s second most important book fair. Lionel Leventhal started SPEX in 1971 to give small publishers a platform. The London Book and Screen festival is held in usually conjunction with the book fair.
Organized by the Tokyo Book Fair Executive Committee and Reed Exhibitions Japan, the Tokyo International Book Fair is one of the premier book fairs in East Asia. They also house at least 25 international publishing houses every year.
The Buenos Aires book fair is one of the top 5 book expos in the world, and the largest book festival for Spanish speakers and writers.In 2015, it hosted 50 foreign countries and 1500 exhibitors.
The Bologna Children’s Book Fair or La Fiera del Libro per Ragazzi is currently the leading professional fair for children’s books in the world. It started in 1963 and has since been the platform for over 1300 exhibitors from 67 countries.
Started in 1977, the Moscow International Book Fair is the biggest book fair in Russia. The fair hosts a series of workshops, meet-the-author sessions, and seminars at the Literary festival, with over 1,000 publishers participating in the fair.
Started in 1986, the Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF), is a premier book fair in Asia providing a significant opportunity for international publishers to network, make trade contacts, and explore opportunities in the lucrative Chinese publishing market. It is arguably China’s largest literature festival.
The Harlem Book Fair is the United States’ largest African-American book fair and the nation’s flagship Black literary event. Started by Max Rodriguez, this book fair began in 1998. Caribbean authors have also been promoted at the book fair.
Australia’s leading book fair brings together some of the most antiquarian booksellers and a diverse array of books that cater for all who genuinely love print on paper! Categories include early printed books, maps, historical accounts of travel and exploration, prints, literature, art, militaria and children’s books.
This is the world’s second largest non-trade book fair. Interestingly, Kolkata’s book fair is also perhaps the most multilingual book fest in the world. It houses at least 30 foreign countries every year. I just spent three whole days at this year’s event!
The ADIBF brings together the Arab and International publishing communities. The fair provides access to publishers in the entire MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region, and as such is an important event in the negotiation and sale of book rights and licensing.
And finally, the world’s largest and most important book fair, the Frankfurt Book Fair is simply a must-visit if one is in the publishing industry. Its almost 60 years old and boasts an association with 102 nations and nearly 8000 publishers. This is regarded as the most significant book fair in the world for international book rights.
Perhaps the most important benefit of print media is tangibility. Print media is unique in its capability to trigger a number of senses; the feeling of paper, the smell of the ink or of an added scent all add up to a wholesome experience. Joining the legacy of print media, we at Wingd are releasing our first ever publication on February 28th, 2017! Commemorating Canada’s 150th anniversary, we give you An Insider’s Guide to Canada’s Capital: a memoir chronicling stories and anecdotes that make Ottawa a historic city today.
Let me know in the comments below if you would like to add any other literature festivals to the list!