As the London Book Fair looms, invisible millions attend book fairs and festivals around the globe

If it’s February it must be the Amar Ekushey Boi Mela in Bangladesh, an annual festival of books that runs the entire month of February. Last year the boi mela sold books to the USD equivalent of just shy of $10 million. But hands up anyone who has Bangladesh on their book market bucket list?

The Havana International Book Fair got underway today in Cuba. Yeah, that Cuba. The tiny Caribbean island better known  for its bearded revolutionaries than for books.

They have book fairs in Cuba?

Actually the 2017 Havana book fair attracted 2 million visitors and over 1 million books were sold.

The Kolkata Literary Festival is happening right now. It’s a three day event held within the much bigger Kolkata International Book Fair which has been attracting big crowds. Typically around two million

For political reasons Pakistan never got to the Kolkata IBF, but the country made up for it with two major book events already this month – the Lahore Literature Festival and the Adab Literary Festival.

But back to India because the Krithi Book Fair has just started. Last year was its first run and 700,00 turned out, spending $2.6 million on books.

Yeah, that India book market really isn’t worth bothering with, is it?

Nor are the Arab markets, as we all know. So let’s just ignore the Casablanca International Book Fair that has just started in Morocco. And of course there’s no need to mention the 520,000 booklovers that turned out for the 2018 edition.

And we might as well ignore the Baghdad International Book Fair that has just started in Iraq.

And let’s not mention the Cairo International Book Fair that has just wound up. Various problems this year mean it may or may not have beaten past attendance – I’m trying to get an official figure form the organisers – but what’s a million visitors either way when we come to book fairs on this scale?

Just touching there on a few of the many book fairs that are happening globally this month as we in the west wait to see what the London Book Fair will bring.

I could add Big Bad Wolf, which just finished its debut event in Myanmar, attracting 150,000 booklovers, and is just prepping its first Philippines run for 2019. Big Bad Wolf debuted in the Philippines in 2018 and it was so successful it had to do three  trips. This year Big Bad Wolf has even more Philippines trips planned.

A reminder Big Bad Wolf is set to ship 60 million books this year to supposed dead-end book market countries.

But let’s not let ourselves get distracted with nonsense about the global book markets when we can sit about and wait for the London Book Fair instead.

Which is not in any way to denigrate the LBF – it’s still one of the biggest and finest events in publishing.

But we would do well to remember the global publishing industry doesn’t revolve around our western calendar fixtures.

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