Tirana book fair kicks off with more than a hundred publishers

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 13, 2015 11:19

Tirana book fair kicks off with more than a hundred publishers

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  • “The November book fair is first of all a celebration of free thinking and cooperation. There is no other place richer in ideas, more populated with thinkers, initiators, dreamers and peace-lovers these days than this space,” said Culture Minister Mirela Kumbaro

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TIRANA, Nov. 12 – More than a hundred publishers from Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and the Albanian Diaspora are participating in the 18th edition of the Tirana Book Fair, the largest event bringing together Albanian publishers who have expressed rising concern over a sharp drop in sales in the past few years.

This year’s fair which is being held at the Palace of Congresses from November 11 to 15 will focus on the future of digital books in Albania. Several embassies and international organizations are also participating in the book fair.

Organizers are planning to award a special translation prize in honour of the 50th death anniversary of Fan Noli, an outstanding leader of the Albanian-American community, but also a pre-eminent and multi-talented figure of Albanian literature, culture, religious life and politics.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Culture Minister Mirela Kumbaro described the annual book event as a celebration of free thinking and cooperation.

“The November book fair is first of all a celebration of free thinking and cooperation. There is no other place richer in ideas, more populated with thinkers, initiators, dreamers and peace-lovers these days than this space at the Palace of Congresses which brings together culture, exchange of thoughts and brainstorming,” said Kumbaro.

The minister also pledged new initiatives to overcome what she called “the painful barrier of isolation of Albanian literature,” through the support of translation and promotion at international book fairs.

Commenting on this year’s topic of digital books, she said digital books should not be perceived as a new form against the traditional hardcopy book. “Digitization will help in a better and faster distribution of books and the entry of Albanian books in the global distribution markets. We have preceded the piracy risk in this field with the drafting of a new copyright law which will be approved by Parliament by the end of this year,” said Kumbaro.

Petrit Ymeri, the head of the Albanian Association of Publishers, says this year’s goal is attracting readers with new book titles.

“Guests are another attractive element for literary discussions. Albanian authors will be present in every stand, promoting books. The presence of translators is another novelty whose impact on the creative and publishing process is highly appreciated,” says Ymeri.

The Albanian Association of Publishers says the economic crisis Albania has been facing in the past few years has also affected book sales and led to the closure of dozens of bookshops and fewer new publications.

“Book sales during this year have dropped by 40 percent. Last year, the decrease in book sales was between 20 to 25 percent, according to contacts with different bookshops and publishing houses,” Ymeri has told local media.

The Tirana Times publishing house and the Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS) are also participating in the book fair with a joint stand in the first floor of the exhibition area with dozens of book titles featuring Albanian authors such as Sabri Godo, Prec Zogaj and winners of Nobel Prize for Literature such as Samuel Beckett and Herta Muller. Several publications by the AIIS Library of International Relations & History from Bernd Fischer, Francis Fukuyama, Dominique Moisi etc are featured in the stand.

Andi Balla’s “Pit Bulls and Butterflies: Stories from a nation at crossroads,” a narrative non-fiction focusing on major economic, cultural and political trends of the recent past, present and future for Albania, the wider region and the Albanian Diaspora, is also being featured as a new AIIS publication.

Some 80,000 people visited last year’s edition buying books at a discount of 10 to 30 percent.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 13, 2015 11:19