Last Thursday the Brazilian Book Chamber, called CBL, opened the 22nd International São Paulo Book Biennal, in which it invested a total of US$15.8m. The largest book fair in Latin America, the Biennal is hosting 480 exhibitors, 37% more than in the last edition, and expects 800,000 visitors until it closes on August 19th.
One of the main characteristics of this year’s Biennial is the significant presence of international publishers, with the number of foreign exhibitors doubling to 134, from 67 in 2010. They come from Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Belgium, China, Korea, Japan, Colombia, Peru and Canada.
Juan Pablo Vera, president of Reed Exhibitions Alcantara Machado, who organized the Biennial, celebrates: “The success of the event grows every year and the fact that we have double the number of international publishers participating this year demonstrates that.” It also expands the mission of the Biennial: “We see that the fair is becoming not only an event where the public and professionals participate, but also a place to make business” says mr Vera.
Reed Exhibitions Alcantara Machado is also responsible for the biggest event in the country, the São Paulo Automobile Show. Mr Vera explains that the challenge now is to make Brazilians, already in love with cars, also fall in love with books.
The 2012 Book Biennial assembled an eclectic group of curators, gathering erudite personalities such as the director of the Portuguese Language Museum, Antonio Carlos de Moraes Sartini, but also popular ones like the television host and pop culture journalist Zeca Camargo. According to Karine Pansa, CBL’s president, the goal was to reach a wider range of readers. The Biennial’s theme this year pays homage to two Brazilian authors: Jorge Amado, internationally known for Gabriela Clove and Cinnamon, and playwright Nelson Rodrigues, who both celebrate their centenary in 2012.
The program is also diverse: on Friday, August 10th, the fair offered a special program focused on digital market, with presentations by Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s VP, followed by Marcílio Pousada, president of largest bookstore franchise in Brazil, Saraiva, and Josh Patesh from Pubslush, among others. Over the weekend, the popular teen literature writers Thalita Rebouças and Gossip Girl’s Cecily von Ziegesar, spoke with readers and fans, while the much-loved Brazilian cartoonist Ziraldo celebrated his 80th birthday. On the other side of the pavilion, a kitchen stand hosts gastronomical programs at the “cooking with words” space, and the National Library Foundation displays an exhibition about classical Brazilian writers. One of the highlights to come is the presentation of Brazilian economist Marcelo Neri about the effect of the growing Brazilian middle-class on the publishing market