Final Press Release

jubilee 15th international book fair and literary festival

14 – 17 May
Palace of Industry, Prague Exhibition Grounds

ORGANIZED BY: Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers and Svět knihy, s.r.o. [Book World Ltd.]
PARTNERS: Czech Television, Czech Radio, Lidové noviny, Prager Zeitung, Prague Post, A2, Host, Grand Biblio, Radio 1; Czech Centre Prague, Literature Across Frontiers; Mövenpick, Auroton Computer, Amica, Orbis pictus, Microsoft
STATUS: Official accompanying event of the Czech Presidency of the Council of Europe
PATRONS: Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic, Mayor of the City of Prague
SPONSOR: Prague City Hall, Office of the Government of the Czech Republic

Slavnostní zahájení veletrhu - On Thursday 14 May, on the stroke of ten, the 2009 Prague Book World International Book Fair and Literary Festival entered its 15th anniversary season with a ceremonial opening. The ceremony was attended by the Czech Minister of Culture’s first deputy František Mikeš, the director general of Russia’s Federal Agency for Press and Mass Media Communication Mikhail Vadimovich Seslavinski, Alexandr Vondra, consultant to the European Federation of Publishers and head of the European Union Literature Award Céline d´Ambrosio, president of the International Book Fair Directors’ Conference Peter Weidhaas and the globally-acclaimed illustrator and graphic artist Petr Sís. “In the beginning was the Word” – it was with this biblical quotation that František Mikeš began the welcoming address. Mr Mikeš was followed by Mikhail Vadimovich Seslavinski, who emphasised Czechoslovakia’s significance for emigrants from among the 1920s Russian intelligentsia. “We are grateful to the Czechoslovak government, which opened its arms to the Russian intelligentsia,” he said. “It helped in the publishing of its works and basically saved a part of Russian culture.” In the next speech Alexandr Vondra turned everybody’s attention to the subject of co-operation within the European Union in the field of literature. “It is important that we are able to listen to one another and to understand,” he said, before concluding, “... the book is a very fitting instrument for understanding, listening, comprehending. In short, we need books in our life; it would not be possible without them.” Céline d´Ambrosio continued by introducing the first European literature award, to be presented on September 28th in Brussels, and added: “We want to demonstrate the richness of literature in Europe, and also to focus on emerging authors. We do our best to support the circulation of books on a European level.” Peter Weidhaas, who was head of the Frankfurt book fair for twenty-seven years and made a major contribution to the founding of BookWorld in 1994, assessed the development and future direction of book fairs and expressed his deep appreciation of the work of Dana Kalinová, BookWorld’s director. To conclude the ceremony, Petr Sís spoke informally about fantasy and inspiration. This was followed by the symbolic cutting of the ribbon by M.V. Seslavinski.

Main theme: 27 from 27 / Europe in Literature – Literature in Europe , The main theme of the fair acknowledged the fact that the Czech Republic is holding the Presidency of the Council of Europe for the first half of this year. This part of the programme presented authors from all twenty-seven countries of the EU, plus countries which are candidates for entry (Croatia and Turkey) and countries outside the EU (Norway, Switzerland). The European authors who were guests of the fair were involved in debates and round-table discussions addressing questions of how European literatures can be promoted within and beyond Europe, what knowledgeable readers know about the literatures of European countries other than their own, new trends in the work of European authors, and the identity of a literary Europe.

This year's fair and its accompanying programme also provided a forum for an extensive presentation of Russian literature; the Central Exposition - Literature and Books from Russia was supported by the presence of numerous writers and publishers from Russia. The exposition was divided into several parts, one of which presented works produced by Russian emigrés in Czechoslovakia and another the fruits of co-operation between Czech and Russian literature. The Russian exposition did not neglect the works of classic authors such as Pushkin and Gogol but also included books by contemporary writers, such as Eugenia Popova and Sergei Lukyanenko, both of whom attended the fair in person.

The programme of the BookWorld literary festival also included exhibitions of books and illustrations, films, works of art, and exhibitions on the themes Fantasy and Creativity and Literature and Education, providing a space for the presentation of initiatives in education and creativity and a campaign for the promotion of reading and education.

The gastro show Cooking with a Book was a completely new item on the programme. Many cookery books are published in the Czech Republic every year; the fair aimed to draw attention to this topic by introducing to the public several good examples. The fair’s organizers were inspired by book fairs abroad, notably in Gothenburg and Vienna, which include similar programmes. It was also the first time celebrities from the world of Czech gastronomy had shown off their culinary arts at the Prague fair. With the participation of some interesting guests, recipes were demonstrated from cookery books published by Smart Press, Slovart and Euromedia. Roman Paulus, head chef at the Alcron hotel, prepared Coquilles St. Jacques with cauliflower purée and truffle oil, while Dagmar Derré and Lenka Světová served aubergine caviar with baked ciabatta and scallops in wine. Chefs from Taiwan and France also demonstrated their arts.

For the third time the fair hosted the literary programme Das Buch, which provides an introduction to literature written in German. The following authors read from their work: Anja Jardine (CH), Julia Franck (D), Radek Knapp (A), Martin Prinz (A), Ingo Schulze (D) and Alain Claude Sulzer (CH). The programme is organized by the following institutions: Goethe-Institut Prague, Austrian Cultural Forum in Prague, the ProHelvetia foundation, the Swiss Embassy in Prague.

Prizes awarded at the fair: Jiří Orten Prize (at the fair for the first time; organized by the Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers), Premia Bohemica (Writers' Guild), Map of the Year (Cartographic Society of the Czech Republic), Tourmap (Tourmap Festival and Avant Promotion), Prize of the Academy of SF, Fantasy and Horror, Pince-nez and Little Pince-nez (Writers' Guild), Dictionary of the Year (Association of Translators and Interpreters), Miroslav Ivanov Prize for Non-fiction (Club of Non-fiction Authors), Growing with the Book – We'd Like to Say Thank You for this Book, My Number One Book (BookWorld Ltd. as part of its "Growing with the Book" campaign for the promotion of book-reading –, School is the Foundation of Life (Writers' Guild), plus many other prizes awarded by individual publishing houses

Exhibitors were from the following countries and regions (30): Austria, the Basque Country, Belgium, Catalonia, Estonia, Flanders, France, Galicia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia (exhibiting here for the first time), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, Walloon-Brussels, United Kingdom, Wales

Guests of the fair were from the following countries (37): Austria, Belgium (Wallonia), Belgium (Flanders), Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA, Vietnam

The accompanying programme again included Book World in Film, the eighth year this series of screen adaptations of works of literature has been held; screenings (a total of 68 films) took place between 4 May and 17 May at the Ponrepo and Atlas cinemas, the French Institute and the cinema at the exhibition grounds. Book World on the Stage – a series of stage plays (34 performances) produced with the cooperation of theatres across the Czech Republic – was held for the sixth time, from 14 April to 14 May.

The Literary Festival: statistics

participants 455 (60 authors from abroad)
total programmes 372
total exhibitions 17

The Fair: statistics:

exhibitors 319
Stands 202
Surface area 3 291 m2
number of accredited journalists 382
number of professional visitors registered 636
number of visitors 34 500