This year Buenos Aires celebrated its 44th edition of the Buenos Aires International Book Fair (FIL). Although the FIL great success is undeniable, it’s getting harder and harder to ignore the staggering crisis that the national publishing industry is facing right now. Behind its colorful face, this year’s FIL hides a worrisome prospect for the production and consumption of books in the country.
During the past few days Plaza Italia was the meeting point for all the bookworms, intellectuals and passionate book buyers at the FIL. As soon as you enter the venue you get shocked by the overwhelming size of the fair. Divided into different sections, it’s surrounded by stands of big, medium and small publishing houses according to their content, territory and language. The FIL has the tradition of welcoming a city each year as its main guest, last year being Montevideo. During the 2019 edition Barcelona, considered as the editorial capital of the Latin American world, was the honorable attendant.
The presence of catalonian writers such as Ramon Llull, Caterina Albert, Ausiás March and Mercé Rododera and academic figures as well as different publishers was very visible during the fair, which also held different events concerning the spanish city that shares with Buenos Aires some history when it comes to literary culture, since both have been cities of refuge and have welcomed political exiles at various times of the 20th century.
The 2019 FIL had in total 1.118.000 visitors, 477 exhibitors, 14 different participant countries, 1014 cultural acts and 2785 writers signed books in its nearly 20 day duration. With this information it’d be fair to say that the publishing industry in Argentina is doing very well, but believe it or not, figures can be tricky and it turns out that the real scenario is far from good. The book sector is going through a very hard crisis and it’s near future doesn’t look bright either.