With just ten days to go ’til Christmas the western publishing industry is preparing to take a break, happy to sit back and let the booksellers, online and off, do their work.
But publishing is a global industry where geographical and calendar boundaries are increasingly meaningless, and for much of the world it’s business as usual. And perhaps a little more business than you might realise.
Today in India the Delhi Comic Con is just starting. It’s the second India comic con this month (December kicked off with the Bengaluru (Bangalore) Comic Con, and before that India had comic cons in Hyderabad and Mumbai).
While India does produce its own comics and graphic novels, these comic cons are inevitably dominated by the western superhero icons from Marvel and DC, a reminder that content travels, if done well.
As the Delhi comic con starts, so Brazil’s São Paulo comics event puts away the stalls for the biggest comics event in Latin America.
Too soon to know how many will attend the Delhi event, but ponder this.
The New York Comic Con, traditionally the world’s biggest comics event, came in with a record 200,000 visitors in 2017.
Numbers for the Brazil event aren’t confirmed yet, but provisional figures suggest 220,000 people turned up for the 2017 São Paulo CCXP (Comic Con Experience).
If those numbers are confirmed Brazil will have surpassed the USA as the biggest comic con country on the planet.
Okay, so Brazilians like their comics. But do they read books?
Well, while the São Paulo CCXP drew 220,000 visitors, the 2018 São Paulo Book Fair is expecting 800,000.
Meanwhile the Rio Book Fair this year drew in 680,000 visitors.
Oh, and since you were wondering, yes, books are sold at these events.
How many? Well, I’m still trying to track down the 2017 Rio sales numbers, but in previous years (the event is bi-annual) the Rio Fairs have seen anywhere from 2.5 million to 3.5 million books sold.
Sounds a lot? At the Sharjah International Book Fair earlier this year books to the value of $56 million were sold during the event, which had 2.38 million visitors.
Just this past week I reported here that the Karachi International Book Fair had set a new attendance record with 600,000 people turning out. No sales numbers yet, but in 2016 200,000 books were sold in four days.
The Jeddah International Book Fair started yesterday in Saudi Arabia. It winds up Christmas Eve. Last year it was a nine day event that saw 275,000 people turn out. This year could be higher.
In fact Jeddah is full of surprises. More on Jeddah as the Fair progresses.
Staying in the Middle East, the Beirut International Book Fair in Lebanon wound up a few day ago (Dec 13 if you must know), and while the final numbers are not public yet, turnout was expected to be around the 180,000 mark.
In October the Algiers International Book Fair took place in the Algerian capital. 1.25 million people attended the event.
In September it was the Amman International Book Fair in Jordan, which regularly attracts over a quarter million visitors.
Looking forward to the New Year, and in February it will be Morocco’s turn, as the Casablanca International Book Fair gets under way. Expected visitors? 350,000.
Also in February the Muscat International Book Fair gets under way in Oman. 820,0000 people attended in 2016.
Then in March, not content with the quarter million plus visitors attending the Jeddah Book Fair, Saudi Arabia has the Riyadh International Book Fair, with 375,000 expected.
But before then is the Cairo International Book Fair in Egypt, which kicks off January 27th 2018 and runs through to February 10th. Over one million visitors are expected.
Meanwhile a little further east (from here, anyway) in Singapore the 2017 Singapore BookFest started today, December 15th, and like the Jeddah event will wind-up on Christmas Eve. BookFest Singapore is expecting 600,000 visitors.
At all these events book-buying will be high on the agenda.
As will be the case at the Malaysia Big Bad Wolf sale which ends on December 18th. Big Bad Wolf Malaysia has been running literally non-stop – twenty-four hours a day – since December 8th, and with 4.5 million books available at discounted prices is the word’s biggest book sale.
Having raised the subject of Malaysia’s appetite for books I’ll end here by mentioning the annual Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair is next due in April 2018. Over two million visitors are expected.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing the USA, UK and handful of European countries are the only countries where books matter.
In fact the global book market is far bigger, and far more interesting, than most authors and publishers realise.