This coming March will see the eleventh Night of the Bookstores in the world’s book capital.
New York? London? Paris?
Nope. Buenos Aires. Yes, the one in Argentina.
As I noted back in November last year, taking a wider look at Latin America on the occasion of Uruguay’s first Night of the Bookstores in Montevideo –
With a population of around 2.8 million, Buenos Aires has at least 734 bookstores – roughly 25 bookshops for every 100,000 inhabitants. Worldwide, only Hong Kong comes close, with 22 bookshops per 100,000, followed by Madrid in a distant third with just 16 and compared to a mere 10 bookshops for every 100,000 for London.
The Buenos Aries International Book Fair, next due in April, regularly attracts over a million visitors eager to lap up literary events and buy books.
Meanwhile the Sao Paulo Comic Con in December had more visitors than its New York counterpart.
And across Latin America, albeit on a slightly smaller scale, the same picture is emerging as social media and smartphone proliferation drives awareness of all things book across the continent and across the globe.
In Colombia the Bogata International Book Fair regularly attracts over a half million visitors, but the Parque 93 Book Festival, which took place last week, has a twist. Publishers are barred. This is for booksellers only.
Martha Helena Gómez, Director of the Amigos del Parque 93 Association, explained to La Silla Vacia:
This fair is the meeting between books, booksellers and bookstores in the public space of the city, which we seek to encourage the habit of reading and buying books in these spaces … The booksellers are happy with this initiative because there are few fairs like this one in the public space, where they can get the best out of their portfolios … The fundamental difference of this festival with the Book Fair, is that at the Book Fair the publishers can sell and have a stand, here it is totally prohibited, that is to say, those who participate here are the bookstores. as it distributes books, but who sells is the bookseller and the bookstore, not the publishers.
Hat-tip to Jose Manuel Anta for this story.