“You’ve turned your back on us,” publishers respond to Book Fair


The publishers affected by the decision of the Madrid Book Fair to place small imprints in the central isle of the event, as explained by the director of the Fair Manuel Gil last Sunday, have written a joint communiqué, signed by 30 companies.

In it, the publishers claim that being located in that central place and not on the sides caused those booths to be less visited “because [the public] was not familiar with it and because it alternated exhibitors, booths and institutional booths”. Gil called it “experimental space” and that is the name that this group, Editoriales del Espacio Experimental, has given itself. “We didn’t know that the Fair was consciously sacrificing us,” they say.

The publishers, who speak of “comparative grievance”, expect from the Fair actions such as a clarifying statement, a commitment that it will not be repeated in future editions of the Fair or compensation to those affected, through a refund of the exhibitor fee or a reduction in the next edition. Instead of this, the response of the organization has been “silence”, as they state in this open letter.

A sector of the organization of the Fair, an initiative of the Guild of Booksellers of Madrid, has expressed its dissatisfaction with the direction of Manuel Gil, whose future will be decided at the Board of the Guild this Thursday.

Open letter

Organising an event like the Fair in these conditions is difficult: we had to cut down on space and many stands were confined to a central islet, which the public visited less because they were not familiar with it and because it alternated exhibitors, stalls and institutional stands. It didn’t matter, because we needed to get out of the offices and meet our readers. Just like other years you get sun or shade, a central or corner location, in this special edition we accepted with resignation (or with humour) the result of the “draw”. But on Sunday, just as we were about to close and pack up the stand, the following statements were published by the director of the Fair, Manuel Gil, to elDiario.es: “It was a studied decision and we put publishers with small catalogues and those who need to join forces with other publishers on the islet”. There is already talk that the publishers of what Gil called the “experimental space” invoiced 40% less than the others. Bearing in mind that the organization has perfectly mapped the space, it can be deduced that the “experiment” was not such, since they knew what the consequences would be and that’s why they sent us there.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had unequal effects on the book world: while Amazon’s sales soared, small bookstores have had to deal with an almost unsustainable situation. Some publishers, due to the characteristics of their public, have been able to maintain their sales levels, but others have suffered serious losses. For two years, we have had to survive practically without fairs, festivals, presentations, book clubs… all those events that normally bring books to life and make us discuss them.

With the wind against us, it is normal that smaller imprints, those that are not backed by a large group, are more affected. It’s logical, and small publishers face it. We bring out books that others wouldn’t publish and we often bet on authors who will later be signed by large groups. We know: these are the rules of the game and we still play.

What we didn’t know is that the Fair was consciously sacrificing us.

Faced with such a comparative wrong we have waited, in vain, for a statement clarifying what happened, the promise that something like this will not be repeated and compensation for those affected, through a refund of the exhibitor fee or a reduction in the next edition. Worse than the statement is the silence that follows.

We do owe the Fair’s organisers and its director a renewed identity. Before we were just small publishers. Now we are the EEE (Experimental Space Publishers). We also owe them the energy with which we have set about experimenting with new ways of organizing ourselves at a time of crisis in which we cannot allow our guild, which should be our main ally, to turn its back on us. We need your support.

We may not be a big group. But we can become a very big group.

Signatories

Alpha Decay

Altamarea

Apache Books

Astiberri

Bartleby

Bellaterra

Coco Books

Continta You’ve Got Me

Demipage

Cálamo Editions

Editions & Historical Sculpture

Barrett Publishing House

El Paseo editorial, David González Romero

Errata Naturae

Fulgencio Pimentel

Gatopardo editions

Hermida Editors, Alejandro Roque Hermida

The Horizon Line

Lengua de Trapo

Libros del K.O.

Libros del Kultrum

Libros del Zorro Rojo

Menoscuarto

Moon Cake

Pepitas

Pre-texts

Punto de Vista Publishers

Reino de Cordelia

Three Sisters Books

Xordica

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