In 2020, the pandemic had a disruptive effect on the book fairs landscape and raised questions on their future after the emergency. Shall book fairs evolve quickly? Shall they introduce radical changes to meet their goals?

To address these points and to generate ideas about a possible new value propositions, Aldus Up organised the networking event “The role of book fairs in an increasingly digital context” in occasion of the special digital edition of Frankfurt Book Fair. Held on October 13, the meeting consisted in a discussion on future strategies for book fairs, also considering the experience of the year of the pandemic, the impact on social relations and mobility, and the increasing usage of digital tools for virtual events. Breakout sessions looked at three different types of fair: B2B Fairs, aimed exclusively at professionals, B2C Fairs, aimed exclusively at the public of readers, and fairs with spaces or times dedicated to professionals and the general public (B2B & B2C Fairs).

Around 45 professionals from national and international book fairs (including programme and rights managers, international relations experts) from the publishing sector (such as publishers, rights experts, cultural organisations) registered to join and contribute to the discussion. The breakout sessions were moderated by Aldus Up partners Luis González (Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruipérez), Elena Pasoli (Bologna Children’s Book Fair) and Marifé Boix Garcia (Frankfurt Book Fair).

This article presents the main outcomes of each discussion group.