Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

A Re-Imagined Book Fair for Toronto?

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Advisory committee member and publisher Patrick Crean

From our friends at the Book Fair Project

A re-imagined book fair in Toronto would help English-language publishers in Canada to attract more readers and create new markets.

These are the conclusions of “A Re-Imagined Book Fair,” a feasibility study released by cultural planner Rita Davies and publisher John Calabro. The study recommends that urgent attention be given to the Canadian book industry as it goes through a tumultuous transition similar to what the music industry experienced over the past decade.

The report notes that while Québec publishers are supported by the consumer-oriented Salon du Livre in Montréal as well as the Québec Book Fair, it has been five years since there has been an event of similar scale for English-language publishers in Canada.

The report says the establishment of a new re-imagined book fair in Toronto would give English-language publishers the opportunity to connect with and sell directly to the public.

Davies and Calabro interviewed more than 40 industry stakeholders and surveyed 130 publishers in Canada. They explored seven international models of book fairs and concluded that the best models for Toronto are to be found in three consumer-oriented fairs, the Salon du Livre de Montréal, the Paris Book Fair and the Turin Book Fair. Each of these are multi-day events that draw more than a hundred thousand visitors to author readings and signings, young adult and childrens’ programs, culinary events, trade forums and panel discussions. The Paris Book Fair and the Turin Book Fair bill themselves as their country’s largest bookstores.

The feasibility study estimates that a “Re-Imagined Book Fair” could draw between 75,000 and 125,000 visitors and result in an economic impact of between $21million and $35million.

"I am really excited by the possibilities of the Re-Imagined Book Fair," says publisher Patrick Crean of Patrick Crean Editions/HarperCollins Canada, a member of the Advisory Committee to the Book Fair project. "We need to come up with new ways of reminding and inspiring the public of the central role books play in a healthy culture. Books are the lifeblood of an engaged society. A Re-Imagined Book Fair would rekindle our romance with Canadian books and authors, and re-ignite the public's imagination."

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