Madrid was buzzing with literary activity earlier this month when the Madrid Book Fair opened in Retirio Park. The consumer-focused event featured 378 booths, which featured a mix of bookstores, publishers and cultural and government institutions. The fair ran for 17 days, from May 27 to June 12 and attracted more than three million visitors who bought 10.2 million euros worth of books—up 2% over the last, pre-pandemic year of the fair in 2019, according to the fair’s organizers.
PW en Español was one of three main sponsors of the event, alongside Caxia Bank and Iberia Airlines, and hosted more than 100 literary personalities in its booth. These ranged from Santiago Posteguillo Gomez, the multimillion copy bestselling historical fiction author, who spoke about his latest novel Roma Soy Yo (Random House), to Santiago Auserón, the philosopher and lead singer of Spanish rock band Radio Futura, who discussed his new book Arte sonora (Anagrama), about the music of ancient Greece.
PW also hosted numerous publishing professionals, including Nahir Guitierrez, communication director for Planeta, who discussed the growing importance of social media platforms in reaching directly to consumers. Though booksellers remain important partners, Guitierrez said publishers are looking to establish closer ties to readers. Planeta's sales in 2022 are up over early 2021, but have dipped from the peak of the pandemic in 2020, Guitierrez said.
The fair reflected the typical book trends seen around the world in the past year, including an increased interested in mental health-related titles, graphic novels and manga, and young adult novels written by social media influences. Rebeca Stones, a 21-year-old actress and influencer, signed copies of her new novel Ingobernable (Montena), for several hours, as did Joana Marcus, Antes de deciembre (Wattpad).
Eva Orúe, who took over as director of the Madrid Book Fair earlier this year, noted that the long lines of people waiting to sign books was a sign that readers were eager to get some face-to-face time with their favorite authors. “After the lockdowns and the pandemic, it is clear readers see the Madrid Book Fair and live events as important to the social life of the city. It’s a great way to for families to share their love of books and for publishers and booksellers to interact with consumers,” said Orúe.
Among her plans for the fair, which she is contracted to run through 2024, are to hold events year-round and to extend them into the suburbs and districts where the poor live. “We want to make the fair more diverse and inclusive than it is and a big part of that will be getting out into the communities that don’t have the means or don’t feel comfortable attending the fair,” she said. “With this vision, we can truly be a fair for all the people of Madrid.”