The 37th edition of La Setmana del Llibre en Catalán (Catalan Book Week) will break some records and see the highest possible number of participants in terms of publishers. It will not be easy for the event to grow much more if it remains in the limited space around Barcelona cathedral.
At the press conference for its presentation, Montse Ayats, president of Editors.cat, explained the experience since her new team took the reins around eight years ago. “We realised the potential of the event and have managed to meet the challenges we set for ourselves.” Editors.cat has 96 members who, despite being competitors, have joined forces for the common good. “We cooperate to compete,” because the aim is “to increase reading figures in Catalan.”
Joan Sala, the president of Catalan Book Week, noted that “it is another year of records, with more bookstores, more publishers and more new activities.”
Around 270 activities are scheduled, with the following summary in terms of numbers: 219 exhibitors distributed among 62 modules; 260 new publishers, tens of thousands of titles and 500 magazines; 12 literary itineraries, and 250 book signings. On this last point, Sala wanted to make it clear that they did not want to “become a new Sant Jordi”: “Book signings are very different. There are no long queues and there’s a closeness between the reader and the authors and editors,” he said.
There will also be a new way of presenting the books, in the format of a fake radio programme, “to make it more agile”, said Sala, who took advantage of the presence of the Catalan culture minister, Mariàngela Vilallonga, to request subsidising comics in Catalan, because “many regular readers of comic books in Catalan have to change over to Spanish when they are 14 because they have no other choice.” Vilallonga took note and added that “Catalan Book Week is a successful formula that unites the whole book chain, but also all of the institutions.”
The budget for the event is around 500,000 euros, although it is quite an elastic figure. “The Week has two clear sides to it: the book fair, which is financed by sales and private sponsors, and the literary festival, which we try to fund with the public money we receive,” said Sala.
On this subject, Sala commented that the organisation has filed a lawsuit against the Spanish treasury for still not having returned the VAT corresponding to the Weeks of 2015 and 2016, which amounts to over 150,000 euros in total.
During the Week, Margrit Lömker and Oriol Serrano, from the distributor Les Punxes, will be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award, there will be an extra prize for Cavall Fort magazine, and the special guest will be Swede David Lagercrantz, continuer of the Millennium saga.