EVENTS Turin International Book Fair – Into the Books

turin bookfairBy Ada Treves

The difficulty of publishing and its importance to minority cultures will be the theme of the roundtable organized by Pagine Ebraiche at the Turin International Bookfair and moderated by its editor-in-chief, Guido Vitale, Coordinator of the departments of Information and Culture of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities. It twill be held on the opening day of the “Salone del Libro”, which is Italy’s largest trade fair for books, held ever year in mid May, that in its programme has hundreds of meetings, debates and conferences.

On the first day of the Bookfair, the historian Alberto Cavaglion, the publisher Massimiliano Schiozzi, and Marco Vigevani, literary agent, will discuss with Gian Arturo Ferrari, director of the Centro per il Libro e la Lettura – Centre for Books and Reading. It is an autonomous body of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities whose mission is to encourage reading in Italy and to promote Italian books, culture and authors abroad. It has a dual ambition: to give social value to books and broaden the base of readers, young and old, especially in this time of crisis. And the difficulties of Italian publishing are even more evident if the books to be published are the expression of a minority. While books as physical objects are losing centrality and value, some texts considered fundamental in the international arena can not overcome the mistrust and fears of Italian publishers.

On the other hand, to discuss the state of the publishing industry also means taking into account the idea that the difficulties can be a stimulus to develop new instruments. From electronic publishing to crowd funding or self publishing, many signs seem to indicate that the interest and importance of reading and publication will remain a cornerstone of all cultures.

Four pavilions, over a thousand publishers, hundreds of thousands of books to compose a huge cultural festival with more than two thousand guests, fifteen hundred presentations, debates, readings, performances… The Turin International Book Fair – il Salone del Libro di Torino – is Italy’s largest trade fair for books, held ever year in mid May. The first edition, in 1988, was opened by Josef Brodsky, the Nobel laureate, and the Salone del Libro has been growing continuosly since then. In 2013, a year of deep economic crisis when reduction of culture consumption is been as strong as the previous couple of years, the number of visitors has grown by 7%. It is now one of the most important book fairs in Europe, involving more than 300,000 visitors every year, that have the opportunity to meet about 1,400 publishers.

The five days programme includes meetings, debates, conferences, project presentations, awards and even cookery shows based on books. And there is the Bookstock Village for young readers and the business area for book professionals. This year’s guest of honor at the 27th Turin International Book Fair is the Holy See. The theme of this edition is the “good”: facing a global crisis that is primarily moral and cultural, it becomes an urgent need to redefine the rules of the game, to try to draw a catalog of values , experiences, feelings of positive sign. Not empty words, but an agenda of things to do. And to do well, everyone at his best.

The guest of honor of this edition of the Bookfair, the Holy See, will be present with a spectacular stand that reproduces the Dome and St. Peter’s Square made out of books. At the official presentation, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi declared that “I have always been surrounded by books and this event is very special for me. People often comment on how little people nowadays read, and that books are doomed. It is certainly true that in Italy in particular, reading is a rare thing. But events such as the Turin Bookfair prove pessimists wrong”.