Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Alessandra Zecchini reporting from the Turin International Book Fair

Left - New Zealand publisher Peter Dowling at Turin Book Fair.

The Salone Internazione del Libro Torino is Italy’s major book fair, held at the Lingotto Fiere in Turin for five days every May.

Attended by over 300,000 book lovers, with exhibits from Italian publishers large and small, a packed programme of writer presentations, a special kids’ pavilion and live broadcasts from Rai TV and radio – it makes for an amazing hive of cultural activity.

Taking place alongside the Salone was the International Book Forum, the business side of the fair, which brought together over 800 professionals to talk book, film and broadcast rights. Oratia Media took its table there to pursue our objectives of taking New Zealand authors to the world and developing Libro International’s presence in Italy.

Although there was a healthy showing of Indian publishers – India being this year’s guest country – we were certainly the only publisher from anywhere further east.

It’s always hard to quantify immediately how much business will come out of a trade fair. All the same, after more than 20 meetings, lots of useful encounters and hours spent browsing stands, I’m confident that we have some exciting opportunities.

A few initial take-outs:

- A lot of curiosity about New Zealand but few immediate prospects for books linked to South Pacific culture in Europe

- Openness to dealing with writers in areas that are less region specific, particularly children’s books, education, business and biography

- A flat or contracting book market is afflicting everyone, particularly the UK, US and Spain …

- … but not India, where economic growth and valuation of literacy is stoking demand for printed matter, with a readiness to take risks

- Ebooks? Not a lot in the Italian market just yet, though Giunti announced at the fair it would soon start selling the first ebook in Italy with an online catalogue of 400 titles to follow.

- Per capita book sales in Italy are creeping up again. They say Italians don’t read much, but judging from the crush at many of the stalls, it would seem fairer to say that those who do read, read a lot.

- Goodwill: the relatively small size of the IBF made it easy to rub shoulders and make acquaintances, and the food and wine was outstanding. In Turin there is such a thing as a free lunch!

It’ll be worth being back next year.

No comments: