Unlike the recent Tokyo Olympics which took place despite extenuating circumstances and a cost of about $28 billion, many book fairs across the globe have not been so lucky. Some events were postponed or held digitally with hybrid models also part of the experimentation of a ‘new normal’.
You would not have been surprised to read headlines such as “Book fair cancelled” with supporting reasons being a monitoring of the Covid situation (across the globe) and author cancellations denting attendance at events such as the Tucson Festival of Books.
To say that the general malaise around the fears of Covid-19 had put a dampener on all things book fair, would be the understatement of 2021. Nonetheless, the adoption of digital platforms as a solution seems to be gaining traction.
Let’s take a look at a few notable examples.
London Book Fair
April 5 to 7, 2022
The Guardian on 4 March 2020 reported, “London book fair cancelled over coronavirus fears, amid growing anger” as a headline. Fast-forward (slow forward?) to a vision of 2021 and organisers Reed Exhibitions, announced June dates for the event.
With the UK in and out of Covid scares, faster than you can say “Brexit”, the organisers had a rethink and moved the event online. This included a series of “flagship digital events” with a possible upside of reaching a wider global audience than ever.
Fear not, this book lovers 50-year-old event returns to its former best-loved in-person format in 2022 from April 5 to 7.
Frankfurt Book Fair
20 to 24 October, 2021
With just 50 days to go, the countdown has begun for the Frankfurt Book Fair set to rock and roll from 20 to 24 October this year!
With a respectable history spanning 73 years, this event will run in-person with a digital programme alongside.
Considering Covid-19 protocol, stand sizes will be increased to accommodate social distancing while prices will be decreased by 50% – a win on all sides.
Last year’s digital-only event saw an engagement of 200 000 users, which lead the organisers to see the value in online, making sure it stays as part of the 2021 offering.
Canada is billed as ‘guest of honour’ at the October event and brings a delegation of celebrated authors, illustrators and artists.
The South African Book Fair
10 to 12 September, 2021
For the South African Book Fair, it was all systems go in 2020, but in a virtual sense, from 11 to 14 September.
It promised a full and exciting programme of stimulating online discussions, entertainment and fun with something for everyone. With more than 22 author-led-panels, patrons were entertained by a variety of topics including feminism, race, erotica, travel and science-fiction among many others.
Presented by the South African Book Development Council, this international event is set for 10 to 12 September 2021 and once again you can expect a full programme for authors, publishers and book enthusiasts.
Jozi Book Fair (JBF)
28 to 31 October, 2021
The Jozi Book Fair (JBF) since its inception in 2009 has as its mission to promote a culture of reading and writing. Partnered with Khanya College, the festival takes place from 28 October to 31 October 2021 and is free to all members of the public.
Conversations with authors, book launches, workshops and exhibitions will be among the activities hosted by the JBF and the public. In addition, a wide range of publisher exhibitors will be available online with Bathekgi, the Khanya online bookshop, offering book sales.
The 2020 JBF ran over three months coming to an end on November 29, 2020. During that time the JBF hosted 19 events featuring 81 authors and panellists. Although online, JBF also hosted some limited-access events to address the challenges of internet connectivity for many of its constituents.
With change came opportunity and, while coming to terms with new challenges, JBF was open to new possibilities.