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Turin embraces the Book Fair, dreaming of a return to the splendor of the past

Turin from 19 to 23 May

By Federico Ingemi

The Turin International Book Fair celebrates its XXXIV edition with an optimistic title: Wild hearts. There is a desire for freedom, to look to the future after the difficult years of the pandemic and Emiliano Ponzi, author of the manifesto of the event to be held from 19 to 23 May , has shaped these needs, especially of the young generations, of "to throw the heart over the obstacle, to project oneself towards the elsewhere".

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Salone del Libro (@salonelibro)

The relationship between the Piedmontese capital and the book has its roots in 1988 and sees in Angelo Pezzana, historical leader of the Italian homosexual movement, and in the entrepreneur Guido Accornero its founding fathers. Inspired by historic European trade fairs, such as the Frankfurter Buchmesse or the London Book Fair, they create a meeting place for the entire Italian book industry. Publishers, authors, booksellers, translators, librarians and teachers immediately appreciated the creation of Pezzana and Accornero; the Republic describes the extraordinary attendance of the public as "the march of the hundred thousand".

The years pass and the Fair tries, from edition to edition, to bring news to consolidate past successes. Since 2001 it has focused on the international nature of the event: in addition to collaboration with foreign cultural bodies such as the Cervantes Institute, the Goethe-Institut and the Institut français responsible for promoting their own language and cultural activities, is decided to appoint every year a host country that has the opportunity to raise awareness of its editorial excellence and to promote its authors. The Netherlands, Brazil, Egypt, Vatican City: these are just some of the foreign countries that have had the opportunity to exhibit at the Salone, wonderful also thanks to stands with imaginative lines recalling the world of print (memorable the dome of Saint Peter made of books, presented by the Holy See in the edition of 2014).

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Gaia Papetti (@gaia_papetti)

In 2004, the four days of late May dedicated to the fair are no longer enough for the public; the brand "Salone del Libro" decides to expand throughout the year and to leave the pavilions of Lingotto Fiere: Salone Off is born, a widespread event, which involves many districts and realities of the Metropolitan City of Turin. The aim of bringing the culture of books out of the environments reserved for professionals has meant that there was cooperation between the latter and the small realities of the territory, made up of civic libraries, museums, neighborhood houses and hospitals.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Salone del Libro (@salonelibro)

After conquering the province, the Salone arrives in the digital world. The health emergency of two years ago forced the organizers to cancel the event, or rather, to transfer it on the web: in 2020 in fact sees the light SalTo+, a multimedia platform where podcasts were made available, interviews, training for teachers and workers in the sector. Given the success of the initiative, the event has proven to be a reality capable of modernizing and adapting to the new challenges of communication.

Thanks to this spirit, the Turin Book Fair has confirmed itself as a must have of the national exhibition schedule; the numbers are proof of this. In the course of the editions, in fact, there has been a constant increase of exhibitors and events, whose peak was reached during the XXVII edition of 2014, entitled Good in sight: 1200 exhibitors, hundreds of presentations, seminars and meetings with schools, that brought more than 339 thousand visitors to the pavilions of Lingotto Fiere.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Salone del Libro (@salonelibro)

In the last decade, however, although at the end of the event we talk about it every time as a record killing success compared to the previous edition, the data show a reversal of the trend compared to the past. While the presence of exhibitors has suffered a slight drop, the same adjective cannot be used regarding the attendance at ticket offices: the 2019 edition, the last one before the forced stop due to the pandemic, counted less than 150 thousand admissions. 

A proposal of events too sectoral and far from the taste of readers? Usual national guests and lack of names of thickness of the world art scene? Are we facing the overcoming of the event? Difficult to find the origin of these data, in the meantime the edition that soon will start will have to be remembered not only as the post-Covid, but above all as the brave one, with a wild heart precisely, able to recognize any past mistakes to return to the ancient splendors.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Salone del Libro (@salonelibro)