Plans for a new Canadian consumer-focused book fair, slated to be held next year from November 13-16 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, were made public on Wednesday.
Inspire!: The Toronto International Book Fair is being organized by Rita Davies, the former head of the culture department for the City of Toronto; John Calabro, a writer, editor and president and publisher of Quattro Books; and Steven Levy, producer of a number of consumer shows. Davies and Calabro began discussing the idea, and then conducted a feasibility study that was funded by the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC). Davies said putting a business and marketing plan together would have taken longer, but when Levy came on board, his experience allowed them to push the launch of the event to 2014.
The new show steps into a void left when Reed Exhibitions, which produces BookExpo America, cancelled BookExpo Canada in 2009, but Davies told PW that the new show will differ from BookExpo Canada most significantly in its focus on consumers. “BookExpo was … publishers selling to the booksellers of whom there were a diminishing number…, so that model was just not sustainable in my opinion,” she said. “Anyway, that’s the past and we’re going to be the future,” she said.
One thing the new show will share with BookExpo Canada, however, is its location in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which publishers frequently complained was very costly for BookExpo. Organizers of this fair are hoping funding from government will help make participation affordable for publishers, but at this point Davies said only that “discussions are continuing. We feel confident that we have a great business case that will enhance the industry and create economic impact.”
There will be an admission charge for the public attending, but Davies said the cost will be kept under $15. Some events, such as a reading by a big name author in a large theatre, might have additional charges, she said.
“The book,” said Davies, “will be the star of the show.” There will be lots of opportunities for people attending to hear their favorite authors speak and to get books signed,” she said. “We’re going to partner with Humber to provide workshops on writing, how to get an agent, [and] how to get published,” she added.
Davies said that in addition to publisher booths, there are also plans for a culinary square and wine garden, where chefs can demonstrate their recipes and sell their cookbooks; a First Nations stage, to highlight the work of aboriginal writers; and a translation fair for French language and English Canada rights sales. Discussions are also underway with OMDC about setting up something similar to a Page to Screen event, which gives publishers and film and television producers opportunities to connect and network.