Not one to let down its loyal followers, the Tbilisi International Book Fair in Georgia will this year take two forms – one online and one offline.
Originally the event was scheduled for end May at Expo Georgia, but restrictions and fears arising from the coronavirus crisis means the May event will now be online only, via the TIBF Facebook page.
That means that with a only a short time to make arrangements, and the obvious limitations of a Facebook event, the online incarnation will be functional but hardly a replacement for the real thing.
With that in mind the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association has been discussing options with publishers and other stakeholders and they intend to hold the regular fair September 24-27.
That may sound ambitious right now, but Georgia has managed to contain the virus threat so far, with just 528 reported cases and only 8 deaths as this post goes live.
This in a country of 4 million, 2.6 million of which are online.
But while the event may be able to go ahead in September, it’s beyond improbable that it can match the glory of previous incarnations.
Exhibitors and visitors from other countries, many much harder hit than Georgia, will be reluctant, even if lockdown restrictions at home permit them, to be heading off to foreign lands for foreign book fairs this year and probably for the next few years.
A reminder that, even for countries impacted relatively mildly by the coronavirus and that can emerge from lockdown soonest, the new normal will have no respect for country borders.