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Print, Digital & Rare share stage @ Guadalajara’s 2013 International Book Fair

programa-de-la-fil-2013_126445.jpg_34417.670x503After 25 years of spending Thanksgiving weekend at the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL), it still surprises and overwhelms a veteran bibliographer. This, the most important book event in the Spanish-speaking world, will host over 100 U.S. librarians and countless other profesionales del libro for 10 days.

Intense airport-like security did not deter the many book enthusiasts who crowded the domestic and international aisles on opening day. Commenting on the traffic jams caused by the visit of Israel’s foreign minister, a local taxista noted that he preferred it all than to blame Mexico if anything were to happen to anyone in the VIP delegation representing this year’s FIL featured country. Ya con los narcos es suficiente, alluding to the constant drug-related violence that gives Mexico negative publicity abroad.

Pabellón-área-del-libro-electrónicoThis year FIL housed an active space for e-books with on-going presentations showcasing the latest electronic products. Will Mexican publishers sign-on this year? Indeed, Mexico lags behind Spain, Argentina, Colombia and Chile in e-book production. A vendor visiting FIL for the first time was amazed at the variety of publishers not yet available digitally, “I have lots of work awaiting me,” he confessed. We in the academic sector also await a more robust and stable digital content that our eager users expect. Even when the not so eager cling to paper, “los ebooks han llegado para quedarse,” said a fellow Mexican colleague. As they claim a growing presence in our bibliographic holdings, the challenge remains: how to archive them and make them available for future users.

The independent press seemed better represented than in previous years. In addition to the collective stand of Mexico’s “indies,” La Furia del Libro (which we had noted in late 2012) was included in the Chilean stand. Likewise, Colombia’s independent publishers were both at the collective national stand and had their own booth (also noted in an earlier posting this year).

Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru had larger spaces than in previous years while Spain’s traditionally strong collective stand covered only a fraction of the country’s publishing output, a tangible sign of that country’s ongoing financial crisis. A colleague lamented the fact that Central America’s 2012 highly visible stand was no longer present, only Guatemala appeared to have a small booth.

Aisle “A” with multiple children’s literature offerings could attract the young and not so young. QCelogio2 And Mexico’s rich culinary tradition was highlighted in books on chiles rellenos from UNAM’s academic press, to a taco encyclopedia or a glossy book from Artes de Mexico, with a dust jacket suggesting anything but cocina mexicana!

Sometimes surprising finds were unexpected. While waiting for a colleague at the Argentine stand the iconic Mother of the Plaza de Mayo on a book cover caught my attention. Indeed, it was an award-winning children’s book: Abuelas con identidad. LIBRO ABUELAS CON IDENTIDAD

With an overwhelming series of events (conferences, book signings, concerts, etc) often the conversations were just starting to reach a high point when some arrived with a reminder that only a few minutes were left. Such was the case with a discussion of Cartas transpacíficas, an epistolary dialogue among two great public figures, the Lozoya brothers, one a diplomat educated in the US and the other a medical doctor who studied in the Soviet Union. “Tell them we’ll stay for their session and buy their book,” joked one of the panelists when told that the next group (in)patiently waited outside.

The exhibit Hebraica Texts at the Palafoxiana Libray, gathered unique treasures in honor of Israel as FIL’s featured country. The accompanying catalogue provided a window into the rich and unique holdings of Puebla’s noted rare book library.

LIAopeningEven outside the exhibit halls there were other book-related events. A group of bookarts supporters took a FIL break one afternoon to enjoy an exhibit of artist books. Favor de tocar showcased over 100 handcrafted books, product of a series of workshops hosted by Lia: Libro de Artista, a local collective of artists, printers and students of the art of the book.

FIL was to continue for several more days but an expected last minute excursion to the Instituto Cultural Cabañas closed my yearly visit to Guadalajara. Israeli photographer Gael de Cohen’s Amen presented 30 powerful images of Judaism, Christianity and Islam through the lives of ordinary Jerusalem citizens, all with an accompanying text that included the word Peace.
Libro de Texto Gratuito
Only a few doors down the hall Pintando la Educación showed 40 paintings from a variety of Mexican artists used to illustrate school textbooks. I still remember the emblematic cover of the patria from my elementary school days in Northern Mexico.

You can see images from a photo album by Mexican librarian Jesus Lau. Spain’s daily El Pais also provided special FIL-2013 coverage.

Adan Griego, Stanford University Libraries

Todos somos lectores: Reporting from the 2012 Guadalajara International Book Fair

At 26 you can claim a life of your own and Guadalajara’s 26th International Book Fair (FIL) has certainly lived up to that expectation, having been called the most important book event in the Spanish language by Spain’s leading daily El País, which carried a supplement dedicated to FIL events.

This year Chile was the featured country (also “honored” in 1999) and its book stand experienced such an avalanche of readers that by the second day a young writer said “I want to move to Mexico, here thye read my books,” pointing to her recent novel…clearly on the way to selling out.

Among the profesionales del libro were 100 librarians from the United States as part of the ALA-FIL Pass program, while fewer in numbers than in previous years, they were quite an enthusiastic group of book buyers. Jesus Alonso Regalado (SUNY-Albany) can probably claim to be the single most eager client: he acquired more than 100 new titles at the Chilean stand…and still had several days left!

As usual, the media conglomerates held the largest and most visible stands but there were also signs of other voices with Corredor Sur; Contrabandos; EGALES or Chile’s independent publishers and the more alternative Furia del Libro, all pointing to a segment of the book industry that struggles to remain competitive.

What was to have been a celebration of the literary prize awarded since 1992 became a cause célèbre: this year’s winner, Peruvian writer Alfredo Bryce Echenique, was accused of plagiarism. His name, while barely mentioned by organizers, still appeared in news coverage. With multiple events held in his honor, it almost felt as if the recently deceased Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes had been the winner. In fact, it was Fuentes who had calmed FIL’s boisterous crowd at the opening ceremony six years earlier as it booed the outgoing Minister of Culture.

The current Minister, Consuelo Saizar, has gained more respect than her predecessor. For a recent profile in the popular culture monthly Gatopardo, Saizar noted among her accomplishments the acquisition of personal libraries of several Mexican writers. These collections are housed in the Biblioteca de México “José Vasconcelos and are being made available to users in a state of the art facility similar to that of Guadalajara’s recently opened Biblioteca Pública del Estado de Jalisco “Juan José Arreola.”

This new Jalisco State Library has a capacity for 2 million volumes and among its holdings is the Benjamin Franklin collection of works on the United States. On FIL’s opening day, the United States ambassador presented a book donation to augment this collection at a ceremony attended by several REFORMA colleagues and I. This modest attempt at cultural diplomacy is noteworthy and could be replicated elsewhere, it costs so little and goes so far.

Librarians were not just book buyers: Paloma Celis Carbajal (Univ. of Wisconsin) participated on a panel discussion about the editoriales cartonersas; Patricia Figueroa (Brown University) was busy interviewing new writers for Nuevas Referencias, her bilingual blog; and I presented on
e-books.

One of the local dailies misquoted some of my presentation but Milenio’s summary of the current e-book landscape in U.S. libraries and the need for additional Spanish language digital content was right on the mark.

I hope to continue presenting with humor and tono jocoso, as the Guadalajara daily complimented this humble experto!

Adan Griego, Stanford University Libraries

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