This article was developed within the program Venture an Idea funded by the USAID.
Vive les Livres! - the words worth living by.
They also happen to provide a slogan for the upcoming 66th iteration of Belgrade's International Book Fair, taking place between October 21st and 29th (one day more than its usual 7-day run). The IBBF is THE major literary event in the Balkans, gathering over 400 local and international exhibitors inside Belgrade's Fair building complex.
Contrary to our previous tour-guide-Ish coverage of the fair, we shall constrict to giving you practical tips on navigating its domed expanses. But first, a bit about the event itself.
The first of its kind was launched in 1956, with major Serbian author Ivo AndriÄ (who snatched the Nobel five years later) present at the event. Fast forward six-and-a-half decades and the Fair has grown into a regional literary behemoth nested between Frankfurter Buchmesse and Buch Wien. It is the most visited cultural event in the city and a true meeting point for Europe's lovers of the word.
This year's guest of honor is France (hence the slogan), and you can expect giants like JoÃ£o Tordo, Kate Moss, and Simon Sebag Montefiore to come in person.
That out of the way, let us cue you in on some practical realities of visiting the Belgrade Book Fair.
- Avoid Thursday.
Yes, you'll save an odd buck on the entrance ticket, but you'll lose much more brain energy trying to maneuver crowds. For Thursday is the group visitation day, with schoolchildren and students of all age groups milling about. The writer of these lines has seen more than one Book Fair Thursday, and trust me, go Wednesday instead.
- Plan Ahead
Speaking of weekdays, the opening Saturday will be the most relaxed of all. But if you can't make it, the crowd rule of thumb is that mornings are generally more maneuverable. If, however, you want to visit some of the Fair's additional programs (talks, debates, workshops, and so on), go afternoons.
- Consider Used Books
Granted, the majority of publications at the Belgrade Book Fair will be in Serbian. But there's a geographic solution to this. Every year, the attic is full of used book stands where you may find quite a catch for little money. We're talking decades-old books in English, German, Russian, French, and other world languages impossible to source new.
- Spread Around
Majestically domed though it is, Hall 1 isn't everything there is to the Fair. In fact, for good hunting, you might want to explore other premises. Hall 4 has traditionally been Mecca for International publishers, and more creative stands have always been those on the fringes.
- Bring those Bags
It is a hard-learned truth that one always returns from the Fair with more books than planned. But not just that. The recent years have seen the discount trend go towards bulk sales. Buy two get a third free, and that sort of thing.
This article is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this program are the responsibility of Nova Iskra and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government