By the time the 42nd Buenos Aires Book Fair opened to book professionals, several of the librarians from the United States attending this year’s event had already visited many of the book spaces in a city known for its many book outlets. It was no coincidence that the hotel was only a few blocks away from Avenida Corrientes, still home to many a book shop in Argentina’s capital. Only a few weeks earlier the iconic street had showcased its legado libresco at La Noche de las Librerías, a cultural event already in it’s 9th year.
For me, I was determined to find a book I had seen at a bookdealer’s catalog in San Francisco. The profusely illustrated, oversize hardcover proved to be quite an adventure: none of the main shops on Corrientes had even heard about it. At one of them it was suggested I consult Librería de la Imagen, whose specialty is local and importerd art books. But the store was already closed on a Saturday afternoon.
A few days later at the Fair’s exhibit hall I mentioned it to the shop’s owner and he had a vague notion about it but his bookstore did not carry it. When I finally secured a copy, thanks to our Library’s vendor, I showed it to the MALBA bookshop cashier who was equally impressed by the book and just as surprised about the limited distribution, ya sabe como son las cosas por acá, he said, agreeing with me that it would make sense for the Museum’s bookstore to have copies for sale.
As in previous years, academic presses had a very visible collective stand while several of the regional governments (provincias) were mostly housed in a large pabellón along with several other NGOs. A local dealer commented that given the new, more fiscally conservative government these entities may not have the same presence at subsequent fairs.
New at this year’s book fair: an on-site courier service that facilitated sending packages without leaving the exhibit hall and Nuevo Barrio, the aisle housing independent publishers with a combined output ranging from fanzines to libros artesanales and graphic novels.
By the time the fair closed its doors after a three week run, organizers reported having hosted 1.2 milion visitors, also announcing Los Angeles as Ciudad invitada for 2017.
Adan Griego, Curator for IberoAmerican Collections-Stanford University.