Spotlight: The Cape Town Book Fair

13 Jun

Day 1

Thought that I would bring this event (taking place at the moment here in SA) to everyone’s attention, even though there’s no link whatsoever to anything in the Science Fiction or Fantasy genres or sub-genres for us to get excited about. πŸ™‚

I thought, Well, since I keep on hearing about all these cool events and Cons and stuff, I’ll fill non-SAfrican’s in on what happens here – plus the fact that I got what amounted to an invite to the event (but wasn’t able to attend), so I feel duty bound. πŸ™‚

What is the Cape Town Book Fair? Well, I guess it’s the same as any other bookfair worldwide: an event where publishers can showcase their product and select members of the public can meet and greet industry-insiders, including authors. The fact that it’s held in Cape Town is a continuous jealousy-generator for those of us living in Pretoria (driving, it takes about a week to get there, and going by plane is just (excuse the pun) plain expensive), but we still get to hear all the news anyway. πŸ™‚

Okay, onto some details: I wont regale you with information about the previous Bookfairs (because I don’t have that info, and even if I did, I would need to change this blog’s name); instead, I’ll dive right into it. πŸ™‚

First I’ll point you to the Bookfair’s blog; it gets updated with regular posts detailing the happenings at the Fair, and will offer quite an interesting window into South Africa’s publishing industry besides. πŸ™‚

Next up, a short run-down of events passed and future:

Taken from the main Fair website, “29 Countries will be present this year, with more than 250 exhibitors representing the full range of publishing in South Africa. South African literature has always had a central role at the fair. This year sees the pilot of the first Cape Town Book Fair Invitation Programme which introduces 12 publishers from 12 African countries at the fair. This is an important development in the growth of the fair. ” this offers a broad info-dump that is actually quite interesting. I never realized (even working in the retail-side of the book trade for just over 4 years now) that the event was home to outside-SA exhibitors. That’s great news, and hopefully means that big houses have stands there, too (for your info, exhibitors have stands at which they showcase their product).

The Fair is housed in the Cape Town International Conference Centre which boasts 10000m(squared, can’t figure the small ‘2’ out) of dedicated exhibition space – book heaven, in other words! πŸ™‚ Check out this page for pics. Quite an impressive venue; that puts you close to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, practically in the shadow of table Mountain, and an hour away (at most) from some of the amazing tourist attractions the fairest Cape has to offer. πŸ™‚

Onto the events that took place today (already done, it’s half past eight in the evening as I type this, but the time will be later while you read this), from 10am to 11:30am the only real stand-outs for me were 1) Antjie Krog‘s appearence (click her name for info on her), 2 panels that had nothing to do with books and everything to do with politics (thought this was a ‘book’fair), and a discussion on whether or not literary prizes are good for the industry as a whole (pretty good one that, I have to admit).

Also taking place at 11am: Louise Grantham spoke about what it takes to be published successfully in South Africa (are you thinking fly-on-the-wall too?), the author of the HUGE (I’m not joking – this is probably the biggest book in SA’s history; I was at the launch of it in Johannesburg and it was BIG) SpudLearning to Fly (third Spud book for the uninformed) by author John Van Der Ruit; he read from the book, took questions and signed copies of the book, too, a discussion on the emerging SA-market of SAfrican Chic-Lit, more political stuff in the form of discussions about teacher shortages and ‘electric capitalism, and demonstrations of printing as well as mini-workshops on copy-editing.

Later in the day, Pan Macmillan hosted a talk that gave tips to aspiring authors, fair-goers could meet Trevor Manual’s biographer, Pippa Green, and a discussion on cartooning and its place in politics.

Going into the afternoon (3pm onwards), a proof-reading workshop (hey, I read proofs!), a discussion with (and I did a double-take when I saw this, couldn’t believe it) !Lauren Beukes! πŸ™‚ among others about new fiction, writing History in the wake of Apartheid, and the launch of Sarah Lotz‘s Exhibit A.

Events ended at 6 this evening, so it was a full day, but not much to interest people reading (and writing) Fantasy or Science Fiction. Still, would have been great to be there and rub shoulders. πŸ™‚ If I get invited next year, I’ll be there for sure. πŸ™‚

The programmes for tomorrow, Monday, Tuesday and the Children’s programme can all be downloaded here, so if you’re interested, have a look. πŸ™‚

I’m sure that’s enough info for now. πŸ™‚ I’ll do another post tomorrow covering Sunday’s programme, and then one on Monday, Tuesday, etc. so check back here (or keep on eye on the feed-reader). πŸ™‚


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Posted by on June 13, 2009 in Spotlight


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