Guadalajara Book Fair 2015, a Review

 

From DEMAC, a women's empowerment press and foundation

From DEMAC, a women’s empowerment press and foundation,  Losing Fear by Writing

It’s a great day (December 5) in Guadalajara. Think LA in the winter, the same weather. I checked, 76 degrees in both cities, no rain!! 😉

The Guadalajara Book Fair 2015 (in its 29th year) opened November 28 and closes Sunday night December 6 at 9 p.m. at Expo Guadalajara. The fair is considered the premiere book event of the Ibero-Americas. This year 1900 publishing houses representing 43 countries are participating. Around 700 authors are speaking at various forums, and/or, presenting their work(s) at booths. The United Kingdom is the featured country. The Brits created an impressive two-tier pavilion of billowing red fabric loosely inspired by the country’s red double-decker buses to invite guests inside.

The highlight of the 9-day event was British author Salman Rushdie’s lecture at Sunday’s Literary Salon. He spoke about his childhood tradition of storytelling (he was born in Kashmir) and how it influenced his work and perspective. Sir Rushdie received the Carlos Fuente Medal from the late Mexican author’s wife.

Also notable, the great number of junior high, high school, and university students flooding the floors, avidly scouring for books from one side of the Expo to the other. It was thrilling to watch young people so hungry for knowledge. Hope for this country’s future.

mostly young people at the Gandhi Bookstore booth

mostly young people at the Gandhi Bookstore booth

school boys captivated at the Arte Mexicano booth

school boys captivated at the Artes de Mexico booth looking at antique cameras

I spent five hours roaming the national and international floors.

There were the usual global players – Grupo Planeta (Spain), Harper Collins, Random House/Penguin (Bertelsmann AG, Germany), Hachette (France), and Oxford University Press (UK). I spent most of my time visiting university and small press booths for inspiring conversations, new paradigm thinking, etc.

Highlights for me in alphabetical order:

Amazon.  Presenting the Kindle White Paper with a $20 US discount for expo speakers, $5 US discount on e-books. Amazon Mexico, recently launched at www.amazon.com.mx,  was also promoting its Mexican self-publishing/direct publishing through Create Space to reach “more than 500 million Spanish speakers.”. See www.kdp.amazon.com

AM Editores.  Mexico City-based publisher of exquisite coffee table architectural books, as well as books on haute cuisine and beautiful Mexico. See www.ameditores.com

Anadoludkm.  The Turkish Center of Language and Culture, bravely showing books on Islam as well as books by Turkish authors, artists, and chefs. They are located at Justo Sierra 2555 in Colonia Ladron de Guevara in Guadalajara.

***DEMAC Documentacion y Estudios de Mujeres, A.C. A 20-year old non-profit for the empowerment of women with offices in Chichuahua, Puebla, Queretaro, and Veracruz (Xalapa). See www.demac.org.mx.  With an understanding that writing can be healing, they run a yearly writing contest throughout the country, as well as writing classes, and seminars where women share their compelling and moving stories. (see diary cover at top of this post).

Grupo Planeta from Spain, especially its PAIDOS booth with offerings on cinema, climate change, narcotics traffic, psychoanalysis, and science. Current best sellers are Melissa Muller’s Ana Frank (Ann Frank), Keri Smith’s Destroza este Diario en Cualquier Sito (no.1 best-seller now, especially with young people, encouraging diary entrees traveling, in school, on bike outings, in the airplane, next to a lake, walking through a neighborhood, etc.). Works of Harvard professor/director of Harvard’s Project Zero Howard Gardner were also promoted. I purchased The Mindfulness Coloring Book a fine gift for anyone of any age.

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See the Planeta Group’s Mexican web site at www.planetadellibros.com.mx

Ecuador.  Stopped by out of curiosity as I attended Ecuador’s 5th annual book fair in Quito exactly two years ago. The Quito fair had 56 stands, the one from Iran, set up by the Embassy, turned out to be the most enticing with a display of photos, paintings, oriental carpets, and of course, books. There were not a lot of events. The next Quito book fair, sponsored by Ecuador’s Ministry of Culture, will be in November 2016, and promises many worthy events and activities. It will be supported by the House of Culture, the Association of Independent Authors, and publishers El Angel, El Conejo, and others. The fair in 2013 was small and not well-attended by locals. Ecuador, as I have observed, is not yet a country with many authors of note (there are some), or readers. But if you research Ecuadorians at the time of the revolution, you will discover, among others, well-educated country heroine Manuela Saenz who was a prolific and articulate diarist as well as a woman ahead of her time. The Ecuadorian Chamber of Books (Camara Ecuatoriano del Libro) publishes a handsome magazine, Leo (I Read), with the motto mas libros, mas libres – more books, more liberty. See also www.celibro.org.ec, Fabian Luzuriaga T. is the president. Or see www.culturaypatrimonio.gob.ec .  Mr. Books (www.mr.books.com, a book chain with stores in Quito and Guayaquil and a bookstore on-line), is a sponsor of the book fair.

El Colegio Mexiquiense. Photo of yours truly below with Margarita Vazquez, Head of Distribution and Marketing for El Colegio Mexiquiense, located in San Miguel Zinacantepec, west of Toluca, a social sciences university offering M.A.’s and PhDs. They produce a prolific number of publications. http://www.cmq.edu.mx .The gentleman is a visting psychologist.

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Gandhi Books. Popular Mexican chain with 20 bookstores (including one at the Mexico City Airport) also selling music, videos, and offering refreshments at its cafes. See www.gandhi.com.mx. Gandhi’s promo for the event was a smart take on God Save the Queen, Dios Salve a los Libros, May God Save Books!!

Latin American Book Source, Inc.  A Chula Vista, CA (San Diego) based distributor of Spanish language books in North America with a plethora of hard cover and paperback titles you can order on-line.  www.latambooks.com.  Also see America Reads Spanish at http://www.americareadsspanish.org , an organization that promotes Spanish-language books in North America.

Letras Libres. A monthly book review publication (arts, literature, interviews). www.letraslibres.com

Libreria del Fondo Jose Luis Martinez.  A GDL bookstore at Av. Chapultapec Sur 198 which features books on ecology, economics, health, and science. A good number of patrician looking visitors at the impressive booth (not just its size but its titles). On Thursday night authors David Brading and Alan Knight presented a History of Mexico lecture from the point of view of Britain. The bookstore also features publications from Mexico’s Secretary of Public Education and CFE, Fondo de Cultura Economica, “la ciencia para todos”, science for everyone.

Luvina.  Luvina is a small, Guadalajara-based imprint of noteworthy educational books, usually a collection of writings in one book dedicated to one subject. Luvina publishes with the University of Guadalajara, the founder of the Guadalajara Book Fair. I bought Enfermedad (Illness) with poetry, photos, surrealistic art work, and 14 stories by different authors. See http://www.luvina.com.mx .

***Mexican Institute of Water Technology. “Our mission is to produce, instill, and disseminate knowledge and technology for the sustainable management of water.” IMTA produces world water forums. Tiny booth, important work. Book title of note, Healthy Water, Healthy People.  See http://www.imta.gob.mx

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Healthy Water, Healthy People

***Nirvana Libros, S.A of Mexico City featuring body/mind/spirit/philosophy books which are sold at Gonville in Guadalajara’s El Centro (Av. 16 de Septiembre y Avenida Juarez).  Aside from books we know well such as Mexican-American Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements (and his other titles), Nirvana bravely put forth a large display of Swiss academic Tariq Ramadan’s Mi Vision del Islam Occidental (My Vision of Western Islam) which discusses the great confusion in themes of identity, religion and culture among Muslims. His book Muhammad which offers up a portrait of Muhammad as a mediator and a man of light, was also displayed with two titles by Abdelmunim Aya, most notably Islam sin Dios (Islam without God), an effort to diminish current stereotypes of Islam as presented in Western media. www.nirvanalibros.com

Quartoscuro.  Six editions/year of fine photography and documentation of the world. I went home with the February-March 2013 edition containing extraordinary photos of the Syrian catastrophe by Latino photographers Javier Manzano and Narciso Contreras. Wow. Prayers for all Syrians caught in the fray and prayers for all other refugees.

Argentinian author, literature professor, and Guggenheim fellow Perla Suez received Mexico’s prestigious Premio Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (Sister Jane Prize) from the Guadalajara Book Fair for El Pais del Diablo, (The Devil’s Country) about the extermination of the “los mapuches” in Argentina’s and Chile’s extreme south. See link for history of the los mapuches at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mapuche_history .

Gabriel Retes, an alternative lifestyle movie and theater director whom I briefly hosted at a film festival in LA and saw later in Mexico City with a group of other directors, mounted a theatrical production of the book/movie Trainspotting Thursday night. I missed it. A photo of Retes in the festival’s daily shows him with shoulder length red hair and a white beard slightly telegraphing the broken love subject that captivates him.

For those attending daily, there were a plethora of worthy speakers and subjects to select from. I would have liked to have heard Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House, talk about the future of publishing or attend several seminars on what’s happening inside Mexico.

I totally missed the American Library Association booth, wish I had thought to visit, and, the Sharjah Book Authority. I have always wanted to attend the Sharjah Book Fair, maybe next year?!

I’ve attended several Book Expo America’s in NY and LA, and other book fairs in the U.S., on behalf of clients. I’ve always enjoyed them but I especially enjoyed attending this year’s Guadalajara Book Fair. Discovering books to love in other countries offers an added dynamic to the experience.

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