The Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL) is the world’s most important publishing industry event for the Spanish-language market. And this year’s fair, scheduled to run November 25 to December 3, will feature more than 450,000 titles from some 2,200 publishing houses representing 49 countries. In addition to the book-buying public, more than 18,000 publishing professionals are expected to attend.
While book sales to the public are at the heart of FIL, the professional program is also central: it is where literary and cultural transactions come together to offer a wide range of unique opportunities. This section of FIL is essential for the publishing industry in Latin America and the world, the place where author rights are negotiated, publishing agreements are signed, and strategic alliances are established that will determine the future of Spanish literature. Every year, rights agents, publishers, booksellers, distributors, illustrators, scouts, reading promoters, librarians, and translators come together for meetings and dealmaking. The large number of exhibitors features publishers from the world’s largest conglomerates, such as Planeta and Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, as well as a variety of independent publishers from across Mexico and Latin America.
And of course, there are the authors. “The fair is a privileged space for book presentations,” says Marisol Schulz, director of FIL, referencing the Spanish-language equivalent of a book launch, where an author is celebrated by colleagues for their new work. “This year we will have more than 630 book presentations, and a commensurate number of authors.”
The rights stuff
One of the fundamental pillars of the business area at FIL is its Rights Center. The market for Spanish-language works is growing fast, and in Guadalajara, translation agreements are made that enable Spanish-speaking authors to reach readers worldwide, thereby promoting cultural and literary exchange among different languages and cultures.
This year, more than 100 tables have been sold to agents and rights directors from 20 different countries. The European Union will be the fair’s guest of honor, with a program that will highlight the importance of linguistic diversity in literature and provide a crucial forum to celebrate and promote the translation of European literary works into Spanish. Sixty publishing professionals from the E.U. and Ukraine will be in attendance for events running November 27–29 under the motto “Building a Union of Cultures.”
The business section in Guadalajara is about more than commercial transactions; it also hosts specialized training for publishing professionals. This year’s fair will once again feature a host of programs, with more than 130 conferences, roundtables, panels, dialogues, workshops, and presentations offering opportunities for professional development, and addressing a host of crucial topics for the industry, such as global market trends, the landscape of independent publishing, ever-changing digital formats, and book promotion and distribution, to name a few.
The business section at FIL is designed to not only enrich the knowledge of participants but also to strengthen connections between colleagues, facilitating the creation of strategic alliances and the exchange of ideas. In this sense, FIL stands out among global book fairs for offering a broad variety of training and development activities. Whether attendees are interested in writing, editing, translation, illustration, distribution, or any other aspect of the book world, they will find something in the program to advance their careers and keep them up-to-date with the latest trends.
The following are among the featured professional programs this year:
International Translation and Interpretation Conference “San Jerónimo,” November 25–26
The annual congress organized by the Mexican Translators Organization will have “Translation and Interpretation: Meeting Point” as its central theme. The program will address topics in a host of diverse fields such as interculturality and translation; the training of expert translators and quality standards; translation in collectives; localization, contracts, and agreements between translators and clients; interpretation of Indigenous languages in legal contexts; and other formats for communication such as audio and sign language. This year’s program will feature a diverse roster of international participants, including Andy Benzo (Argentina), Olga Jeczmyk Nowak (Poland), Scheherezade Surià (Spain), and Elsy A. Villegas Carvallo (Mexico).
FILustra, November 25–26
This specialized program for illustrators will celebrate its 10th year with a slate of events under the theme of “Creative Journeys Beyond Words.” Comprising conferences, roundtables, and workshops, the activities will explore the innovative styles, techniques, concepts, and collaborations that can expand creative horizons and become the primary means of conveying ideas, emotions, and narratives. Illustrators from nine countries will participate in the program this year, including Andrea Gago (Peru), Gusti (Argentina), Isol (Argentina), and Gema Sirvent (Spain).
International Publishing Design Forum, November 26
This forum, co-organized with Anahuac University, explores the trends transforming the landscape of editorial design and how to harness bold new concepts to create unique and captivating pieces. This year’s theme for the daylong program is “In Search of the Extraordinary: Trends in Editorial Design.” In a constantly evolving world, editorial design finds itself at an exciting crossroads, and this year’s program will explore how traditional rules are giving way to new ideas and innovative ways of communication. Notable speakers include Ximo Abadía (Spain), María Álvarez (Mexico), Javier Basile (Argentina), and Alberto Guerra (Mexico).
International Booksellers Forum, November 26–27
This program, co-organized with Carlos Fuentes Bookstore and the University of Guadalajara Editorial, is now in its third year and provides a space for booksellers from Latin America and the world to collaborate. With the theme “Bookstores: the Local and the Global as Ingredients of the Same World,” the program seeks to identify parallels, coincidences, and divergences between the book ecosystems in Latin America and Europe, with the intention of understanding how the local and the global complement each other to enrich the ways of building reading communities.
Awards and tributes
Throughout the fair’s nine-day run, FIL will present awards and tributes to various stakeholders in the book production chain to recognize excellence in their professional careers. This year’s honorees include the following:
Publishing Merit Award: Margarita de Orellana and Alberto Ruy Sanchez (Mexico), from publishing house Artes de México
Tribute to Bibliophile: José María Murià (Mexico)
Tribute to Librarian: José Porfirio Tamez Solís (Mexico)
Ibero-American Illustration Catalog: Marcos Guardiola Maguma (Spain)
“La Catrina” Cartoon Prize: Juan Matías Loiseau Tute (Argentina)
Rubén Padilla Cortés is a publishing consultant in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Read more from the Guadalajara International Book Fair feature:
Guadalajara International Book Fair 2023: One Language, Many Cultures
As demand for Spanish-language books grows, publishers are finding diversity in Latin American markets.
Guadalajara International Book Fair 2023: Found in Translation: PW talks with HarperVia’s Juan Milà
Juan Milà is editorial director of HarperVia, an imprint at the HarperOne Group in the U.S., dedicated to publishing international voices. We spoke with Milà about the latest literary trends in the U.S., and around the world.
Guadalajara International Book Fair 2023: Scouting Great Spanish-language Books
The founding editor of Words Without Borders discusses some of the most exciting work being published in Spanish today.
Guadalajara International Book Fair 2023: Serving Spanish Readers of the Future
The cofounder of the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival says the event focuses on reaching a large but underserved audience.
Guadalajara International Book Fair 2023: Mexico’s Multilingual Literature
Indigenous languages pose challenges for publishers.