The Book Fair more popular than expected

The Montreal Book Fair was more successful than expected last weekend at the Palais des congrès, where readers were able, for the first time since the pandemic, to meet the authors in person.

“We are pleasantly surprised. Even though ticket sales were going well, with the arrival of the new variant and the increase in cases, we were worried that people would not come. Finally, the readers were there! »Rejoices Olivier Gougeon, the general manager of this show which was in its 44e year.

The 2021 edition, during which the wearing of a mask was compulsory at all times, will have been marked by a reduction of 20 to 30% in the number of tickets sold compared to the 2019 Book Fair. A very slight decline given the circumstances, underlines the organization, especially since the show this year took place over four days and not over six, as two years ago.

“Literature is the cultural sector that has survived the pandemic the best. We exceeded our objectives. From 20 to 30% reduction, it is very enviable, especially since some predicted a reduction of 50 to 60%, like other major events ”, underlines Mr. Gougeon, who avoids however to put forward figures. accurate in terms of traffic, believing this to be a misleading measure to assess the success of the show.

Children’s literature in the spotlight

On the other hand, we know that around 10,000 elementary and secondary school students came with their class to the show during the first two days, Thursday and Friday. This is half as much as in 2019, but, again, these figures must be put in context. “If there were fewer people, it is quite simply because we had decided to tighten the gauges this year because of the pandemic. If there had been as many time slots as in 2019, there would have been as many students, ”explains the general manager of the Salon du livre de Montréal.

Even with a small number of students, the fair was successful for children’s publishing houses. Some of them even ended up running out of books to sell.

“We did not expect such enthusiasm. Normally, visits to schools during book fairs are almost limited to distributing bookmarks, ”notes Amélie Bibeau, president of the Association of Quebec Writers for Youth.

A welcome move

Overall, the literary community says it has had a great show, the first opportunity in two years for the various industry players to meet face-to-face. A flagship event also to promote the latest releases and to introduce readers to new authors.

“Basically, sales at shows are never really important compared to everything we sell in the year. It is above all a promotional tool for us, ”explains Serge Théroux, president of Somme touts editions, who did not expect to meet so many people at this show either.

Despite the face covering, Mr. Théroux says he did not feel an additional distance between the writers and the visitors. On the contrary: according to him, the new location of the show, the Palais des congrès, was more suitable for exchanges than Place Bonaventure, where the event was held until 2019.

“It was very pleasant. The ceilings are much higher. The Palais des congrès is much more airy, and traffic was also fluid, ”confirms Philippe Gendreau, Deputy Director General of Éditions du Boréal.

Still far from normal

All in all, the number of publishing houses was much lower this year than in 2019. A little less than 1,400 authors were also on site, compared to more than 2,000 two years earlier. It’s still much better than last year’s show, which was only offered remotely, pandemic requires.

This year’s edition still had a digital component, but it had a very confidential influence, recognizes the director general of the Salon du livre.

“In 2019, there was almost nothing left of the discussions that took place during the show. This year, there are 25 roundtables left that have had few views so far, but that people are at least going to be able to watch on YouTube all year round. This allows the show to live beyond four days ”, hastens to add Olivier Gougeon, who also intends to continue to develop the digital aspect for the 45e edition next year.

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Reference-www.ledevoir.com

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