THE BLOG

The Modern Day Book Fair Is More Than Just Books

11/14/2014 05:23 EST | Updated 01/14/2015 05:59 EST

As the literary and publishing world evolves, the desire to have collective gatherings connecting the global industry has increased.

That said, something special is happening in Toronto this weekend, as the public will be invited along with industry mavens to what looks like will be an annual world class book fair.

With programming that truly has something for everyone, INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fairwill take place over four days, ending this Sunday.

As "Canada's book exposition for all things print and digital," the literary community, sponsors and funders will be watching as to how attendance and reaction will be and if in fact this will be an annual event.

At first glance, this feels like a big deal, as many international literary names are coming to Toronto to be part of this. With the addition of Canada's First Indie-Publishing Awards, the hope is that the fair will trigger the development of future literary stars right here in Canada.

We had the opportunity to sit down with John Calabro, Rita Davies, and Steven Levy, who are the three all Executive Director's of INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair. Their thoughts follow below.

What inspired this idea?

After John and I (Rita) conducted the feasibility study, "A Re-Imaged Book Fair," we asked Steven -- who's one of Canada's best consumer show producers -- to join us. We saw a great opportunity to bring more eyes on books and drive revenue to all sectors of the book business.

How is this different from other book events in Toronto?

INSPIRE! delivers a breadth of book-related experiences and atypically involves a myriad of book industry players--from self publishing to large international publishers--to engage audiences like never before. We're a place to discover and enjoy books, to hear from authors and industry experts, and of course, we're offering three and a half days of book-inspired Christmas shopping.

In 15 words or less, why should people care about this?

400 international and Canadian authors, 300 hours of programming over three and a half days!

Will this truly be a destination for the global literary community?

We wanted to create something that was going to cater to Toronto and to Canada as a diverse city and country. We have a dedicated space, From the Four Corners, that celebrates international literature accompanied by literature that reflects the linguistic and cultural diversity of Canada with a unique focus on South Asia, Europe and Pan America. Over the next year, we will enhance the international component as our objective is to have a fair reflecting the many cultures of the Canadian reality.

What are the Inspire! Ambassadors?

Our Fair Ambassadors are advocates of literacy and the arts across Canada, and are strong supporters of the Book Fair. This year's ambassadors are: Dr. George Eliott Clarke, Kelley Armstrong, Claire Cameron, Mahtab Narsimhan, Andrew Pyper, Marissa Stapley, Monica Parker and Antonio Nicaso.

Some of my readers have young kids. Is there relevant programming for them?

Definitely--we're putting a spotlight on children's programming on Friday, November 14th at the TD Children's Stage. We're incredibly excited about Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, promoting his new book as well as the TD Children's Stage which is set to feature children's favourites Geneviève Côté, Gordon Korman, Barbara Reid, Ashley Spires, Kevin Sylvester and Eric Walters. We know that parents will enjoy the programming as well!

Can you illustrate the itinerary of a well spent day at the fair?

A day at the fair will include exploring literary genres from children's books to cookbooks, hearing the authors read, attending workshops and seminars featuring industry experts, and capped off with a book-shopping experience like no other at our INSPIRE! Marketplace.

What are some of the highlighted workshops?

Our workshops are designed for trade-insiders, librarians, aspiring writers and children with offerings such as "How to Secure an Agent," "Hip Hop in the Classroom" and everything in between. We also are pleased to provide a unique space for industry insiders to connect and discuss translation rights and trade networking.

Food programming?

We have a dedicated area where a lineup of chefs will present recipe demonstrations, taste testing and a feast of cookbooks. The Piller's Culinary Zone will include Elizabeth Baird, Matt Dean Pettit, Rose Reisman, Tosca Reno and David Sax.

Last word?

We believe that books are fundamental and wanted to create an event that is about all readers so that they have a dedicated forum to engage in. INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair is a platform that has on it the broadest range of book-related parties ever assembled in Canada. It has brought together the multiple components of what is known as the book industry and INSPIRE! will democratically open its doors to anyone interested.

Ticket package recommendations?

Tickets are $15 per person, with re-entry on all three days included in the price of admission (some restrictions apply). Tickets are available online here.

If you are in the area, or traveling to Toronto this weekend, this "part exhibition, part market and part cultural festival" seems like a good thing to check out.