Official opening of Athens book fair

“I won’t repeat myself for the tenth time,» President Costis Stephanopoulos told a large gathering of publishers, writers and politicians last night as he opened the book fair on the Dionysiou Aeropagitou pedestrianized street. «I’ve said it all before and I won’t bore you by repeating it. This time I’m speaking as a senior citizen. There are so many things you can’t keep doing as you get older, and reading takes the place of many of them. And,» he joked, «you forget a lot of what you read so you can start books over again.» On a more serious note, he noted the importance of reading for young people, too, and how vital it was for unemployed youngsters to have access to books. The president went on to make his usual visit to many of the stands at the 33rd book fair (the official poster of which is seen at left), being held for the second year on the walkway at the foot of the Acropolis. Earlier, Education Minister Marietta Giannakou responded to demands voiced by Demosthenes Kaifas, the League of Greek Publishers (SEKB) president, for government support for books and libraries, saying it was a government priority to support the book industry and upgrade and develop libraries. Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia noted that far from dying out, as widely predicted, books had gone on to do even better. She emphasized the need to capitalize on the «golden» opportunities offered by Greece’s recent Olympic summer. The official opening took place on the first rather chilly night this autumn, which may explain the fairly sparse sprinkling of visitors to the more than 250 stands. The book fair is organized by SEKB, the Culture Ministry, and Athens Municipality. Open Monday-Thursday 6-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 6 p.m. – 1 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 6-10.30 p.m. through October 17. For information, tel 210.330.3942, 210.330.2523.