Belgrade Book Fair
|Belgrade Book Fair|
Exhibition Hall in Belgrade fairground
|Frequency||Annually, in mid-October|
|Venue||Belgrade Fair grounds|
The International Belgrade Book Fair is one of the oldest and most important literary events in the region. Its basic objective is enabling publishers, authors, booksellers, librarians, book distributors, multimedia companies and other participants to establish contacts, exchange experiences, do business deals and establish other forms of business and cultural cooperation. All publishers from Serbia and the most prominent ones from the region feature at the Fair their annual publishing production.
In addition to the publishing program, an extensive side event one is organized at the Fair, as well: conferences, round table conferences, meetings with authors, public discussion panels, workshops... For the visitors, written word fans, the Book Fair is an opportunity to find at one place and buy at special prices the books they are interested in, as well as to meet their favorite authors and discover the new ones, attending one of many programs.
The Book Fair is the most visited cultural event in Serbia. In 2012, there were 150,798 visitors at the Fair, while in 2016 there were 188.409 visitors. Based upon the organizer's data, in 2012, the Fair was followed by 1.275 accredited journalists, of which 71 were international.
According to a research conducted by the Strategic Marketing among Belgrade citizens in 2010, the Book Fair was proclaimed the greatest brand of Belgrade.
The Belgrade Book Fair was set up by the City of Belgrade, it is managed by the Book Fair Council and the Executive Organizer is the company Belgrade Fair. The Fair is traditionally held in October, in Belgrade Fair Halls 1, 1A, 2 and 4, at the space of about 30,000 m² and it is 8 days long.
The first Yugoslav Book Fair was held in 1956, at Zagreb Fair, under the auspices of the President Josip Broz Tito. It was attended by the most important writers of the country, among them also Ivo Andrić and Miroslav Krleža. About 12,000 books of all Yugoslav publishers were displayed there, but also of those from Austria, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, UK, France, Italy, China, Hungary, East and West Germany, Poland, Romania, USA, Soviet Union and Switzerland.
In the following year, 1957, the Fair was moved to Belgrade, where the construction of a modern fair ground was completed. The books were displayed by about 60 local and 36 international publishers, from 16 countries in Europe, America and Asia. It was agreed that the International Book Fair should include the catalog and last for six days. The Fair was held at the end of October, in Belgrade Fair Hall 3 and on the occasion of the Fair festivity, the Book and the World magazine was initiated, as well. The first Belgrade Book Fair was opened by Mr. Rodoljub Čolaković, the Vice President of the Federal Executive Council at that time.
The International Book Fair in Belgrade gathered annually an increasing number of publishers from the former Yugoslavia and the whole world, so that after the Frankfurt and Warsaw Book Fairs, it became the largest meeting point of the publishing staff from Europe, America, Asia and Africa. The East and West cultures met in Belgrade and still meet there.
Several prizes are awarded during the Belgrade Book Fair: Publisher of the Year, Publishing Project of the Year, Children's Book of the Year and The Most Beautiful Book. These prizes are awarded to the publishing production and works, presenting by their quality and importance of the scientific and artistic achievement an outstanding effort of the publishers, editors and writers. All publishers from Serbia being exhibitors at the Fair may compete for the prizes.
In addition to these prizes, the Dositej Obradović Prize has also been awarded since 2007, to an international publisher, for his continuous contribution to publishing and promotion of Serbian literature. So far, the Prize winners were the Austrian publisher Wieser Verlag from Klagenfurt (2007), French publisher Gaia Editions from Bordeaux (2008), Hungarian publisher Jelenkor from Pécs (2009), Italian publisher Zandonai from Rovereto (2010), Bulgarian publisher Siela from Sofia (2011) and Slovak publisher Kaligram from Bratislava (2012).
The Guest of Honor Country
Since 2002, Belgrade Fair has got also its Guest of Honor – the country with especially presented literature and publishing production. The Guest of Honor Country gets an outstanding location in the Hall 1 Arena within the Book Fair. The Guest of Honor has the opportunity of presenting its publishing and culture at its stand as well as in the Fair's promotion conference halls, within the author meeting program, lectures and trade seminars.
The Guest of Honor may feature at the Fair the authors from its country, translators, publishers, distributors, as well as all those connected to the book in different ways. Establishing strong and live cultural connections is one of the most important event objectives and in this respect the Guest of Honor institution is extremely important.
The previous Guests of Honors were Norway (2002), Canada (2003), France (2004), UK (2005), United States (2006), Italy (2007), Japan (2008), Greece (2009), Sweden (2010), Portuguese language (2011), Hungary (2012), Poland (2013), China (2014), Russia (2015) and Iran (2016).
The Book Fair includes all major authors from Serbia and many respected regional writers. The event is traditionally opened by renowned local authors. In the first decade of the 20th century, the Fair was festively opened by Svetlana Velmar Janković, Vida Ognjenović, David Albahari, Milovan Danojlić, Ljubomir Simović, Goran Petrović, Dušan Kovačević, Dragoslav Mihailović, Dragan Velikić and László Végel.
The Fair is annually visited by at least one contemporary worldwide known writer. Among others, the Fair was visited by Alain Robbe-Grillet, Erica Jong, Natsuki Ikezawa, Claudio Magris, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Charles Simic, Elizabeth Abbott, Tony Parsons, Peter Handke, Patrick Besson, Ǻsa Lind, Thanassis Valtinos, Flaire Yegy, Gish Jen, Naim Kattan, Geir Pollen...
The School Day
The so-called School Day has been organized at the Fair since 2005, which encompasses organized visits of pupils, students, professors and school librarians, as well as many side event programs intended for them.
Already at first superficial sight, one can see the wish to let the Fair be an open window with double sight, the one for our man into the foreign book world and the sight for a foreigner to the book route and development in the literatures of our nations. In addition to the editions in the languages of all our nations and ethnic groups, about 70 exhibitors from 18 countries participate in it... With reference to the Fair, under cooperation of experts, an exhibition was organised to honour the 100th Anniversary of V. I. Lenin, then an international exhibition of Slavic editions of our houses and flats...— Ivo Andrić (1970)
Look at this huge quantity of secrets around you! At the Book Fair, I always feel sad, rather than happy. Even if we lived hundreds of years, we would not have time to open all these shells of human mind pearls, full of heart's fire and imagination storms...— Desanka Maksimović (1988)
Nowadays, literature lives from deceased classics and alive readers, asking a new question now: Can we love a book? Rather than how much we appreciate it or how beautiful it is... Thus, look here, tonight, for a book you will be able to love. Thereby, perhaps, you help this planet surviving...— Milorad Pavić (1990)
The Book Fair is a wonderful central place, where I can only meet the writers I know and see, check and get acquainted with the entire local production. Thus, the Book Fair is the most beautiful time for me in Belgrade.— David Albahari (2004)
- As mentioned in the 57th International Belgrade Book Fair Report
- "61. Међународни београдски сајам књига – завршни текст". sajamknjiga.rs. 2.11.2016. Check date values in:
- Radovan Popovic: The First Book Fair Archived September 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
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