By Mariana Gonzalez-Marquez
Guadalajara, Mexico, Dec 5 (EFE).- The 35th edition of the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL) wrapped up on Sunday after welcoming 252,000 visitors, although that total was not enough to prevent the fair from losing money this year.
Despite the reduction in attendance compared to years before the coronavirus pandemic and fewer international publishing houses exhibiting their wares and services, the hybrid fair was still the foremost event of its kind in the Spanish-speaking world, with 70 percent of the 1,621 scheduled events being held in person and positive emotions running high due to face-to-face meetings again being held, fair president Raul Padilla said at a press conference.
He said that 205,000 people – of the 251,900 who attended – gathered at the Expo Guadalajara, the fair’s main venue where strict health protocols were in place, two schedules were implemented for visitors and corridors and passageways had been expanded to allow more social distancing.
Almost 850,000 people had attended earlier editions of the fair, but this year’s event allowed “extraordinary flow and management” of people with not a single case of Covid-19 detected and sales doing reasonably well, Padilla emphasized.
There was “a significant health cordon” to protect invited guests and attendees, said Marisol Schulz, the general director of the FIL, who added that 2,649 Covid-19 tests were performed among the visitors, along with 128 for invited guests, who required these tests to be able to return to their home countries, and all the tests came back negative.
This year, the program included 450 book presentations, 50 of them virtual, 232 literary and academic forums and 81 activities for industry professionals.
The fair was the showcase for 1,223 publishing houses from 37 countries offering 240,000 titles in the exhibition area, along with 3,278 book professionals and 35 literary agents from 27 agencies.
The economic crisis caused by the health emergency resulted in lesser participation by national and international publishing houses and thus less income for the fair, which had to offer discounts to encourage publishing houses to be able to exhibit their titles, Padilla said.
He said that the fair required an investment of 105 million pesos (about $7 million) and lost 18 million pesos ($850,000), which fair organizers expect to recoup at the 2022 event, which is anticipated to be more similar to the 2019 pre-pandemic gathering.
The 36th edition of the FIL will be held Nov. 26-Dec. 4, 2022.