Nicola Lagioia, the new Director of the Salone del Libro di Torino, sets out his vision for breathing new life into Italy's biggest book fair (18-22 May) as it celebrates its 30th Anniversary and meets the challenges posed by the staging of a new fair, Tempo di Libri in Milan
I believe there is to be a new look to the Turin International Book Fair in 2017. Could you outline the background to these changes?
2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the Turin Book Fair (Salone del Libro di Torino). The Turin Book Fair is Italy's biggest and most important book fair and is open to both the book trade and the reading public. It is a book fair dedicated to - and intent upon - creating opportunities for shared storytelling and sharing ideas between authors, authors and readers, between readers, between those working in publishing both in Italy and Internationally - agents, scouts and publishers.
As the new director of the Turin Book Fair I am concentrating on both continuity and innovation. Continuity in terms of taking forward the sterling work of my predecessors, and innovation in terms of defining a book fair that reflects the ever evolving reality - both economically and politically speaking - that is our reading world. 2017 is also a year heavy in important anniversaries - the Russian Revolution for example - events that are essential parts of our world's historical narrative but also events that will also play a useful part in making sense of the path ahead.
What initiatives can visitors and exhibitors expect to encounter?
Readers and visitors to the Turin Book Fair will discover a book fair that both reflects and honours Italian publishing and the engagement in Italian Publishing and storytelling in Italy. Big and small publishers, independent publishers alongside the corporate publishing groups - all the publishers that choose to engage and participate in this vital, jubilant and dynamic example of cultural programming and storytelling.
Who is involved in organising the Fair? What partnerships do you have?
The Turin Book Fair is organised by the Foundation for the Book, Music and Culture. As director, I am supported by a wonderful and committed team and assisted by by 14 consultants/experts - all professional people who have distinguished themselves within the Italian publishing industry and whose expertise will immensely benefit the Turin Book Fair.
Alessia Polli, the well known and much admired Italian editor, has been appointed as the Director of the Turin Publishing Fellowship Programme and the International Rights Centre.
We are building new strategic alliances and partnerships while strengthening our existing ones, such as with the Bologna Book Fair and the French festival in Montreuil. There will be others and we will update you!
Do you expect a UK presence at the Fair?
Absolutely! The United Kingdom has long played a pivotal role in the world of international publishing and, of course, in Italy itself. We hope - particularly taking Brexit into consideration - that the commitment of the United Kingdom to partnerships, collaboration and participation will be ever multilateral, polyphonic, engaged, forceful, bold and important. British storytelling and publishing lead the way while breaking down barriers and transforming our understanding of who we are as human beings - we have already begun inviting both British authors and actors and activists in the British publishing world.
What is the health of the Italian book market at present?
You are sure to know, and have seen the statistics and/or the number crunching around the bookselling data - recent years have seen a retraction of the Italian markets and a reduction - generally speaking - in profitability. The situation is improving slowly year on year. The good news however is the incredibly significant growth experienced in children's and young adult publishing - a wonderfully encouraging and auspicious sign of the future of publishing itself. What is remarkable and particular to Italy is the faith, loyalty and pleasure that Italians in cultural manifestations. The Turin Book Fair has, year on year, defined the publishing calendar and broken records for audience attendance and participation. We have no doubt that this year, the 30th anniversary party will be no exception! We look forward to welcoming you to Turin.