Extending across an area of 1200 mq, featuring over 100 exhibitors and attracting more than 30,000 visitors, of which 7000 are young book lovers, the Slovenian Book Fair is the country’s oldest (taking place since 1972), largest and most important book-oriented event. From its initiation, the fair has gone through three development stages: from a purely book-selling and commercial-cultural event to the present day’s festival of the complete book chain. Around 350 accompanying events, talks, presentations, book-signings, music and theatre performances, film screenings, etc., take place over a period of six days, on five stages and in three halls. The fair’s model is a general one, a business-to-consumer model (B2C) catering primarily to individual visitors and focusing on exhibiting/selling books on stands. There are eight professional prizes awarded at the fair, including the most important book-sector prize, the Life Achievement Award, and the Grand Prize for Book of the Year. Conceptually, the accompanying programme is divided into eleven sections: Debate Café, Writers’ Stage, Focus Country, Guest City, Publishers’ Academy, Kidsfest, School Book-trail, Forum, Gourmetfest, Illustrators’ Corner and Fotozone. The fair internationalized in 2015. Its first guest country was France, followed by Italy (2016), Germany, Austria, Switzerland (2017), Hungary (2018) and Europe last year.
Great emphasis is placed on developing reading culture. A national reading campaign, “Slovenia Reads”, was launched at the fair several years ago. The campaign’s ambassadors – public figures and famous names in the world of culture – meet at the fair every year. Since admission to the fair is free, book purchases are encouraged with the motto “Pay no entrance fee, buy another book instead!” Each year, a missive highlighting a relevant issue is sent out to the book community and the media. There’s another characteristic that distinguishes us. We include children with special needs, young persons who are hard of hearing, have vision impairments or physical disabilities in the creation and implementation of accompanying events, encouraging them to present a self-devised programme. Whilst small in terms of exhibition area, our aim is to endow the Slovenian Book Fair with a big heart!