'Time for Books' fair debuts, but Turin shadow looms

Culture minister calls it 'dynamic' but crowds are low so far

'Time for Books' fair debuts, but Turin shadow looms

(By Michelle Ruelle). Milan, April 20 - The 'Time for Books' fair, which encountered controversy when it was organised after the long-established Turin book fair lost the confidence of Italian publishers in early 2016, debuted on Wednesday in the presence of Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, who called it a dynamic trade fair aimed at increasing readers in Italy. The fair is in its first year, while the five-day Turin International Book Fair is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and will begin on May 18. When journalists asked Franceschini whether or not he was in favor of just one book fair rather than two, he said the two fairs aren't competing against each other and that he'd wait to see after having visited both. Italian Publishers' Association (AIE) President Federico Motta, referring to the two fairs, said he hoped to "continue down a common path", and thanked Franceschini for "having at heart the fate of culture in this country". Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino will visit the Time for Books fair in Milan on Sunday, together with former Culture Minister Massimo Bray, president-elect of the Turin book fair's managing body, the Book Foundation. Appendino said they are working on this year's fair and "haven't yet thought about any future synergies". "We've always had a great working relationship with (Milan) Mayor Sala. They'll do their fair and we'll do ours. That's where we're focusing our energies," Appendino said. Time for Books is being held at Milan's Rho trade fair centre, spread across 37,000 square metres, with 552 exhibitors and 2,000 guests. Crowds were low on opening day Wednesday, but the true test will be at the weekend, with a long holiday weekend that could further diminish turnout. Renata Gorgani, president of Fabbrica del Libro (Book Factory), which organised the Time for Books fair, highlighted that there will be 600 women hosted at the event, making it an "exception". "Usually at book fairs, women make up 10 percent," she said. She also emphasised that the fair would host fewer new book presentations and instead offer more sessions with authors, journalists, scientists and experts. "There will be authors talking about other authors, and small publishing houses make up 80 percent of those present," Gorgani said. Time for Books runs through Sunday, April 23.

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