With 1,324,500 visitors, the 46th edition of the Feria Internacional del Libro de Buenos Aires ("Buenos Aires International Book Fair"), which ended on Monday at La Rural, was the most successful in the event's history.
The large crowds were reflected in the increase of sales, organisers said.
The record-breaking attendance can be explained in part by the high expectations generated by two years of absence due to the coronavirus pandemic. Additional impetus was provided by the literary appetites of Argentina's youth, who queued up in endless lines over the past month to buy books and listen to their favourite authors and 'BookTubers.'
This year's edition of Argentina’s largest bookselling event surpassed the attendance of its last two pre-pandemic editions by a difference of 144,500 visitors; the Ferias of 2018 and 2019 received around 1,180,000 people.
"We were very excited, because it was the comeback fair," says the event's director, Ezequiel Martínez. “[We had] excitement and anxiety, but what happened really overwhelmed us, it surpassed everything we imagined. It's Monday and you can't believe the number of people here. We couldn't be happier."
Martínez said the event's omission from the cultural calendar was "noticeable," prompting the crowds.
"This is a classic cultural event in Buenos Aires and it was very noticeable that it was missing the meeting with the authors, the book signing, the possibility for independent bookstores to show off their catalogues and many other rituals that the fair has to offer," he said, adding that readers had "flocked" to the event in large numbers.
The joy of booksellers, editors and members of the publishing industry over the high attendance figures has been backed up by sales, with large publishing groups such as Penguin Random House and Planeta recording rises of around 20 percent.
The figure, if averaged out with the performance of imprints such as Urano and V&R — mainly dedicated to youth publications, both with sales reaching 128 percent of what was registered at the last edition — represents a 61 percent increase in books sold, according to data from the Argentine Chamber of Publications.
According to data from Feria organiser Fundación El Libro, the most popular and in-demand activities were those led by Florencia Bonelli, Paulina Cocina, Gabriel Rolón, Shelby Mahurin, Camila Sosa Villada, Mario Vargas Llosa and Javier Milei, among others.
With nine pavilions, 40 countries represented, 358 stands displaying offerings from 1,727 publishing companies and 11 event rooms, among other stats, the Feria concentrated 1,500 cultural activities.
The success of this year’s fair sets a high bar for expectations for the next edition, which is due to run from April 25 to May 15, 2023. Its featured city will be Santiago de Chile, the fair's authorities announced on Tuesday, following on from the choice of Havana.
— TIMES/TÉLAM/EL PAÍS