Organizers of a new consumer-targeted book fair in Toronto have announced highlights of 300 hours of programming that they hope will draw large crowds of book-buying Christmas shoppers on the weekend of Nov. 13 to 16.

“Our objective is to bring more eyes to books and to reading, to support sales and to expand the whole book business,” Steven Levy, one of the three executive directors of INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair, said yesterday at a press conference. “To do this, we created a multi-faceted event...Our next job is to bring tens of thousands of people to INSPIRE!”

To aid in that effort, bestselling authors slated to appear on the main stage include Margaret Atwood, Sylvia Day, Lisa Genova, Kathy Reichs, Anne Rice, William Gibson, Kelley Armstrong, Peter Robinson and Amanda Lindhout. Star children’s authors include Mélanie Watt, Dav Pilkey, Jeff Kinney as well as all seven authors of Orca Book Publishers’ Seven series.

There will also be a children’s stage that will spotlight popular authors such as Geneviève Coté, Gordon Korman, Barbara Reid, Ashley Spires, Kevin Sylvester, Eric Walters, Cybèle Young and Deborah Ellis, as well as winners from the TD Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards.

Organizers promise the participation of more than 400 authors and say that the exhibitor space is more than 75% sold. Executive director Rita Davies told PW that marketing efforts in this inaugural year have been focused in the Greater Toronto Area but with more funding, "next year, we'll will be increasing our reach."

A “Discovery Stage” will focus on Canadian independent publishers and their authors, including authors such as Catherine Gildiner talking about the third book in her bestselling memoir series and Robyn DooLittle, author of Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, discussing the city’s rollercoaster ride with its notorious mayor. The stage will also feature panel discussions on such topics as self publishing, the making of picture books, horror, romance, human rights books for young readers, and Quebecois literature.

The First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literary Circle will feature authors including Lee Maracle, Joanne Arnott, Michael Kusugak, Edmund Metatawabin, Waubgeshig Rice and Paul Seesequasis.

Chefs and food writers, including Elizabeth Baird, Matt Dean Pettit, Rose Reisman, Tosca Reno and David Sax, will be meeting readers while demonstrating their recipes in a culinary zone.

The fair will also have an international component with a pavilion exhibitors and authors from Europe, India, Latin America and the Caribbean. INSPIRE! executive director John Calabro told PW that they are building the international part of the fair initially by inviting international authors and blending events with Canadian authors of a similar cultural or linguistic origin. “We are in a unique position in Toronto to have authors who are first-generation Canadians and still have a linguistic background, [so] they may write in both languages,” he said, mentioning a panel of authors who publish in both India and Canada.

According to organizers, dedicated space for publishing professionals to network and discuss translation rights will be also provided.