A New International Book Fair: Milan’s Tempo di Libri

An overview of the newly established Italian book fair Tempo di Libri debuting this April in Milan

by Giulia Trentacosti — article first published in April 2017

With the launch of a new international book fair in Milan, this spring is set to be a busy time for Italian publishing.

A joint project by the Italian Publishing Association (AIE) and Milano Fiera, Tempo di Libri – which in Italian means “time for books” – will take place in Milano Rho-Fiera from the the 19th to the 23rd of April. The event will represent an addition to the already busy Italian Spring publishing calendar, which includes the popular Bologna Children’s Book Fair – this year taking place from the 3rd to the 6th of April – and the Salone del Libro in Turin – running from the 18th to the 22nd of May.

Offering a state-of-the-art exhibition space, a wide-ranging professional program, and a rights exchange area, the new Milanese fair sets out to become a key meeting-point for Italian and international industry professionals, as well as for Italian readers. At 2 Seas, we’re particularly excited that Michaël Uras, author of Take Two Chapters and Call Me in the Morning, has been invited by his Italian publisher Casa Editrice Nord (GeMS) to participate in the fair — right on time for the launch of the Italian translation, Le Parole Degli Altri.

international book fair

Federico Motta, President of the Italian Publishers Association

As part of our Publishing Industry Insights’ series, Federico Motta – president of the Italian Publishing Association – tells us a bit more about Tempo di Libri and what it has to offer to international professionals.

Giulia: Why the need for a new Italian fair in addition to the Salone del Libro in Turin?

Federico Motta: Italy has a chronical need to spread the habit of reading, since statistics tell us that only 40,5% of people aged 6 and over have read at least one book over the last 12 months for purposes other than school or work (see The vanished Reader report by Associazione Italiana Editori). It is very good news, though, that younger people (aged between 6 and 17) read more than the national average, which is the reason why Children’s and Young Adult literature is particularly strong in our market. With this in mind, it is clear that we must make the most of every possible occasion to reach out to new readers, to strengthen the relationship with the existing ones and to promote our reading culture. A Book Fair in Milan, where we produce 70% of all printed books and sell 40% of the national total, seemed something natural and consistent with the identity of the city.

Furthermore, Tempo di Libri will be included in a wider project to promote reading which the Associazione Italiana Editori is taking forward across the entire national territory. The new Fair will not only be crucial in the short-term, but it will facilitate the construction of a network of continuity – in terms of time and contents – aimed at the development of innovative reading-promotion practices. The ultimate goal is that of spreading books, reading and publishing everywhere (not only in schools and workplaces), and also that of reaching the areas of the country that suffer the most due to the lack of bookshops.

G: How will the two fairs co-exist?

FM: The two fairs are indeed close, in time and location, but they have different audiences, which are very large in both cases. Milan is well connected with every other Italian city, as well as with other countries – so much so that it is often described as Italy’s getaway to Europe. Also, this city has always had an international vocation in business and in culture, and it is a strategical centre for our publishing industry and for innovation in a wider sense.

international book fair

Milano Rho Fiera exposition space

G: What does Tempo di Libri offer to international publishing professionals?

FM: A distinctive feature of the Fair will be its attention to the internationalisation of the Italian product: foreign operators will arrive not only to negotiate rights but above all to get to know our country’s publishing excellences. From this perspective, a very important role will be played by the Associazione Italiana Editori as coordinator of Aldus, the European network of Book Fairs. From the 19th to the 21st of April, Tempo di Libri will host the MIRC – Milan International Rights Centre – an event aiming at encouraging international contacts for large, medium and small publishers, with a view to increase Italian rights sales abroad. The occasion will be doubly interesting given that all exhibiting publishers at Tempo di Libri will be entitled to free participation. MIRC will occupy a space of approximately 3,000 square meters, with soundproof walls to create an intimate space for negotiations between operators. Subject to online registration, the event will be targeted at acquisition editors, rights managers, literary agents and scouts.

G: Is the fair mainly aimed at professionals or at the general public?

FM: Tempo di Libri is mainly aimed at the general public, for the reason I mentioned before: we need to turn more Italians on to reading for pleasure, and not only for information or study purposes. We plan to accomplish this mission by offering a very rich program, targeting different categories of public. The fair will also feature a special area called Tempo di Libri A Tavola, focussing on food and wine publishing, where visitors will also be able to sample the creations of great chefs.

Of course, there will also be a dedicated professional programme, with meetings, conventions and workshops allowing industry professionals to come together. All fields of the contemporary publishing world will be put under the microscope: from graphic design to translation, from marketing to digital technologies and distribution (both physical and digital). The programme is curated by Chiara Valerio (general programme), Pierdomenico Baccalario (0-18), Nina Klein (digital) and Gianni Peresson (professional).

G: Can you please provide an overview of this year’s program?

international book fairFM: First of all, the program will be guided by a themed alphabet: twenty-six letters, twenty-six keywords, twenty-six tags (plus one, @) that will act as a compass to meetings and round tables, with important Italian and international guests. Tempo di Libri will give special consideration to younger readers, with a series of initiatives involving children of pre-school age, pupils of primary and secondary schools and young adults, up to the world of university.

G: Have you already set a date for the 2018 edition?

FM: We are still focused on the first edition, working hard to make it as perfect as possible, so it is a bit early to think about the following one. The dates for the 2018 edition will be announced later on.

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