Some countries have decided, after the veritable fast of the pandemic, to boost the love of publishers and readers by providing publishing houses with significant incentives to present their books on well-arranged stands. Domestic publishers are awaiting visitors with a mix of hope and anxiety, but they already know that the book fair concept must change drastically if it wants to survive
The main motivation for the staging of this year’s Belgrade Book Fair is the great desire of almost all publishers to preserve one of the most important cultural events in our country – so Bora Babić, director and editor-in-chief of publishing house Akademska knjiga [Academic Book], succinctly summarises the fears and hopes of publishers who will await the public under the domes of Hall 1 of the Belgrade Fair from 23rd to 30th October, after a break over two years that fundamentally changed the way we live and the way we perceive our reality and future.
We asked Mrs Babić and other reputable publishers and editors about the place of book fairs in this new reality. How much do they need to be physical gatherings and how much should they be digitalised? Do fair halls still represent undisputed arenas to encounter books and hang around with books; and how do they see the future of encounters between books and readers? Finally, considering the decidedly dark images of the immediate future, we asked our interlocutors whether book fairs should represent a way of fleeing the not-so-pleasant present or whether they should try to bring awareness to that present. Here are their answers.