This will be brief, but to the point, The regular Turin (Tolino) International Book Fair could not go ahead as planned thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, but that didn’t stop the organisers putting on an online event (with plans to hold the real thing later in the year).

Despite being thrown together at the last minute and on a shoestring budget, it was an outstanding success, pulling in a virtual audience of close to 5 million.

Salone director Nicola Lagiola described the event as (auto-translation),

An overwhelming participation which we cannot ignore. We find in our hands the prototype of a new and successful model, which does not replace but adds to the classic and indispensable one.

More on the Turin International Book Fair Online as details become available.

For a closer look at the online stats clocked up on Facebook, twitter, YouTube, etc, check out this post (in Italian).

Here just to note that the Turin Online event really sets the bar for expectations this year as more and more book fairs and publishing events go online.

And what’s so important with all this is to bear in mind that the tech to make this happen has not suddenly appeared out of nowhere as the pandemic hit, but has been with us for years, ignored and sidelined as the publishing industry tried to do things as it has always done, treating the digital opportunity as a sideline.

No more. As Lagiola says, this is aprototype model that will add to, not replace, the old model.

In a way rather like ebooks, which were tried, then held at bay to protect the status quo, and are now embraced again.

Funny how it takes pandemic to make us realise the value of what we could have been doing all along.