It is the 38th time that the Book Fair has been organized in Gothenburg.
The fair started in 1985 with around 5,000 visitors. In the years before the pandemic, the Book Fair had around 80,000 visitors per year.
Just over 40 percent of the visitors are industry visitors, with the two largest groups being teachers and librarians.
This year’s theme country is South Africa. The themes in general are the climate crisis, the detective festival “Crimetime” and “voices from Ukraine”.
This year, the fair has 11,000 square meters of exhibition space, 700 exhibitors, 320 seminars and a total of 4,000 program items.
The Gothenburg book fair was one of many events that had to be rethought when the covid-19 pandemic hit two years ago.
The organizers bet on a completely digital trade fair in 2020 and on a hybrid variant with a very limited number of physical visitors last year.
This year’s fair, which opened on Thursday, has therefore been long-awaited. Not least among the smaller book publishers who use the Book Fair as an important showcase for readers.
— It is an investment, but we have always thought it was worth it. We have always invested heavily in the Book Fair. It’s a good way to be seen in the industry and to meet readers, says Melina Nordstrand, who is sales manager at Opal.
However, it is also a relatively expensive shop window.
A budget stand of four square meters at this year’s fair costs, for example, SEK 9,500 excluding VAT. A larger stand costs at least twice as much, plus travel and hotel costs and other expenses.
— It is clear that there is a concern. To calculate the financial investment that we at the publishers make, the audience is needed, says Johannes Holmqvist, publishing manager at Tranan.
— It’s fun to be at the fair and to have some of our authors here. But it is clear that if it becomes too big a loss, we will have to evaluate our presence.
Neither on Opal nor on Tranan, however, was there any hesitation to bet much like before when the plans for this year’s fair were presented.
— We have prepared as before the pandemic. We have the same size stand, we take down the same number of books, we expect good sales and a lot of customers, says Melina Nordstrand.
— Our preparations are the same as in previous years and so we hope that we are not disappointed when we go home.
This year, the crane is again sharing a stand with two other publishers: Ellerströms and Rámus.
— We are three publishing houses that come together and share a stand. Partly to be able to have a little more space, and partly it is nice to be able to share the preparations and the staffing. There has probably never been any doubt about whether we would participate this year or not, says Johannes Holmqvist.
“A little tense”
Will book and literature lovers crowd Gothenburg in the same way as before the pandemic? It remains to be seen.
But when Frida Edman, the person in charge of the fair, summarized the experience of last year’s empty pandemic fair, it was with the observation that “the physical meeting is superior”.
The 2021 fair was a kind of pandemic-adapted hybrid between the physical and digital that attracted 6,709 physical visits, which can be compared to the pre-pandemic 86,000 visits in 2019.
— It was a great book fair in 2019, everyone probably thought so. So we hope for something similar this year. But I think everyone is a little nervous about how many people will come, says Johannes Holmqvist.