Since 1955, always at the end of October, it has been held at the Customs Square the traditional Porto Alegre Book Fair, one of the biggest and most beloved cultural events in Rio Grande do Sul. In 2020, due to the serious context of the pandemic in the state, the Fair cannot be mounted on the paving of Portuguese stones. This year, she returns to her place of origin, in a hybrid way.
Due to the pandemic, the Fair, which in its beginning had 14 book sales stalls, will have 60% of exhibitors from previous years, totaling 56 stalls. It is the largest open-air book fair in Latin America.
Organized by the Rio-Grandense Book Chamber (CRL), this year’s edition starts on October 29, National Book Day, and runs until November 15, under the theme “To read a new world”. At the premiere, the current patron of the Fair, Jeferson Tenório, will pass the baton to Brazilian poet, columnist and journalist Fabrício Carpinejar.
According to the organizers, the online programming will be produced in a studio installed in the Memorial do RS building, located in the square itself, and transmitted through the Fair’s digital platform, which will also house the exhibitors’ virtual stores or purchase options via Whatsapp. O heat from the fair starts next Tuesday (19), with the project Partiu Feira do Livro!, a time for training readers and valuing reading, in the Children and Youth area.
Also on the children’s area, there will be the Enchanted Forest space, which will bring gnomes, fairies and fantastic beings. They will tell stories with the theme “Poetry asks for passage”, says Sônia Zanchetta, coordinator of children’s and youth literature and reader training activities.
O Brazil de Fact RS spoke with the president of the CRL, Isatir Bottin Filho, and with the curator of the fair Lu Thomé, about this year’s edition. The official schedule should come out in the next few days.
Brasil de Fato RS – How will the hybrid fair work?
Isatir Bottin Filho – The Fair needed to return to the Square, with all the care, of course. It will take place according to the protocols in force in the two weeks it takes place. We will have totems with alcohol gel, in addition to the usual bathrooms. For our biggest challenge, we count on you: public awareness to help us with collective behavior. We will have to be aware of queues and a lot of patience in the spacing between everyone and full use of masks.
Perhaps documentation regarding vaccines is needed, we will only know for sure when it happens. We are all united for a greater good: the nostalgia for the Fair and the prestige of those who created it and suffered so much over the past two years: publishers, distributors and local booksellers. Make lists, we’ll be with tips and promotions to suit everyone.
All programming with foreign, national and local writers takes place online, there are 36 meetings transmitted from a studio (without an audience) of the Memorial do RS. We managed to keep the same number as last year.
The children’s area will have programming for early childhood with visits scheduled in advance by schools, institutions and social projects. This will be possible through the sponsorship of Petrobras Cultural in all the actions in this space, Floresta Encantada.
BdFRS – Number of exhibitors?
Isatir – There will be 56 newsstands this year, about 60% compared to previous ones. Due to the crisis, the pandemic and the necessary distance. All of them will have a digital presence on the same Fair website, either through an online store or sale via WhatsApp. In other words, the Fair’s website is the main reference for visits or for online spectators and buyers.
BdFRS – Expectations? Difficulties?
Isatir – Expectations are to bring the Fair back. Last year our focus was on keeping it. This year is to build the bridge for the continuous improvements that will come later. The difficulties are the same as in all cultural events: bills being approved at the last minute and it’s a good thing we got it. Ditto partnerships and sponsorships. That is why we emphasize that Banrisul and Petrobras gave us the chance to launch the Fair, without these first and long-term partners, we would not have been able to start this dream that is renewed every year.
Even the fact that our fair continues to be the largest open-air fair in Latin America, with so many visitors and training programs for reading mediators and readers, every year it is as if it were born again, in terms of project. It’s behind the scenes that we live, the team. Every year, we have to prove that it is important, that it is done transparently and that it needs encouragement to be carried out.
In short, our expectations are the best, we have an engaged and committed team.
BdFRS – How will the reader’s contact with books be?
Isatir – I already explained a little in the first question. The interaction in the stalls will be like what happens again in street bookstores or shopping malls. Lots of alcohol, attendants handling the books more, but audience interaction is inevitable. Exhibitors will maintain greater hygiene with the books, everything we’ve already learned together. Our advantage is always being in an open area, with lots of ventilation.
BdFRS – Last year, how the online format impacted results: sales, debates?
Isatir – We gain in views of debates and hits around the country and the world. Likewise, the participation of all outsiders has become accessible. Sales did not happen last year, they were low. And they are fundamental. Supporting local businesses is essential. Our fair is made by him.
BdFRS – What lessons have you brought?
Isatir – It brought what we learned in our lives. To go digital, to be resilient, and to understand that literature can save us a lot! The Fair is symbolic in terms of education, reading and contact with books. It is a very rich meeting of those who make them and those who read them.
More than anything, it shows us that we are always learning and that’s how we want to continue it.
BdFR – This year’s Fair Slogan is “To read a new world”. I would like you to talk about the topic, what does it mean? And what are your expectations for the Fair?
Lu Thomé – The 67th edition marks the return of the Book Fair to Praça da Alfândega. And not only that: in the pandemic scenario, it represents our hope after the vaccine and the desire for meetings and renewal. We want the book to be at the center of this celebration. This is the concept, expressed in the Fair’s manifesto, which is guiding the choice of authors and themes for the lives of the general program.
We will have the stands ready to receive readers. And we hope you feel free to walk around Praça da Alfândega in search of new books and new stories. And that, in addition, accompany us live in the lives on the website and social networks of the event to follow the debates and participations of guest authors of the general schedule.
Source: BdF Rio Grande do Sul
Edition: Marcelo Ferreira