Over 356 wooden cabins are already in place in Madrid's Retiro Park to host the 272 publishers and 110 specialist and general bookshops, official bodies and distributors for the Madrid Book Fair that opens its doors on Friday 25 May, and with Italy as its special guest.
The 71st fair has been presented at Madrid City Council today by the head of the event, Pilar Gallego, and by Director Teodoro Sacristan. They are expecting over 250 activities to take place up until June 10, starting from meetings with writers. Prominent among these are Eduardo Galeano, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Fernando Savater, Camilla Läckberg and Manuel Rivas.
Under the logo: "Italy, a Country to be Read" Italy's Ambassadorial Delegation to Spain and the Italian Cultural Institute in Madrid were represented at the press conference by Ambassador Leonardo Visconti di Modrone and by Director Carmelo Di Gennaro. They have prepared a rich programme of meetings featuring 26 figures from the world of culture and ideas, including Claudio Magris, the winner of the Principe delle Asturie Literary Prize in 2004, Erri de Luca, Corrado Calabrò, Dacia Maraini, Chiara Gamberale, Emilio Coco and Roberto Calasso, who brings the fair to a close on Sunday June 10. Italy is also prominent in children's narrative literature with the "Books for Everybody" pavilion. Here visitors can experience popular traditional tales from Italy as retold by Italo Calvino, and universal classics such as Pinocchio, the 'libro Cuore' or Sandokan, along with modern writers such as Gianni Rodari or Bruno Munari. An exhibition is dedicated to the latter writer, with children's workshops, inviting them to play with coloured materials or to construct their own books. Under the patronage of Madrid Council and Community and of Banca Sabadell, the fair has been organised by the association of book retailing entrepreneurs of Madrid, the publishers' association and the federation of national associations of distributors.
But there are traces of the harsh economic climate, which is not sparing the publishing sector in Spain, as was stressed by the Chair of the Fair, Pilar Gallego. In calling the fall in sales from bookshops and the stocks remaining in the warehouses "significant", Ms Gallago gave no figures for the first months of this year, but noted that "they would be dire". (ANSAmed)