Thessaloniki Book Fair resists crisis

THESSALONIKI — Despite being organized in harsh conditions, the 2011 Thessaloniki International Book Fair appears to be the best-organized edition in its eight-year career. Organized by the National Book Center of Greece (EKEBI), the festival was inaugurated at the northern port city?s Helexpo exhibition center on May 5.

One of the event?s main assets this year is the increased number of meeting areas — a Young Adults? Corner, a Literary Cafe, the Odysseas Elytis and Nikos Gatsos halls as well as a space dedicated to the Middle East Festival — set up to host a multitude of events, including the space designated for this year?s thematic exhibition, ?Books and Education.?

Could it be that the current crisis has yet to touch the world of books? Quite the opposite, actually.

?The publishing world is living under constant threat and businesses find it hard to breathe given their unbearable obligations,? noted EKEBI president Takis Theodoropoulos at the fair?s opening.

The changes compared to previous years are obvious to see: These range from the publishers (not that many) who didn?t make the trip to Thessaloniki, and the ones who did but chose to present their wares in a smaller space, to those who despite the current climate are developing and stand out with their collections of major names, best-sellers (Greek and international) and successful nonfiction publications.

In the end, however, the eighth edition of the Thessaloniki International Book Fair might be remembered for marking the Greek publishing world?s foray into a new, dynamic chapter, that of digital books. On display at the Public bookstore?s pavilion are a number of ?reading engines? which include digital books distributed by an online bookstore. At the heart of the fair, between EKEBI?s main pavilion and the area designated for the Middle East Festival, the Myebooks pavilion represents Greece?s largest online bookstore, which currently represents some 2,500 digital Greek titles and 50 publishers.

Despite the arrival of this brave new digital age, the Thessaloniki International Book Fair is also home to a few romantics who insist on the beauty of printing. Aiora Press, for instance, presents a do-it-yourself box for recycled paper.

Running to May 8. the fair includes a long list of book and author presentations and other events.

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