Tempo di Libri: The world in the alphabet

21 December 2016

Letters, words, books, one behind the other. Tempo di Libri, launching its first edition, commences with the alphabet. Like at school. Alphabets of letters, numbers, symbols, figures and gestures. This is why schools, universities and readers – children, adults and professionals – will be the true focus of Tempo di Libri, the new Italian Publishing Trade Fair taking place at Fiera Milano Rho from 19 to 23 April 2017, the first scheduled previews of which are presented today in Rome at Più Libri Più Liberi.

The alphabet itself will be the key and the method through which to read the whole of Tempo di Libri. It is a trade fair that wishes to resemble the reader and thus progresses by themes and events. In the Tempo di Libri themed alphabet (attached) there are some anniversaries, distinguished by as many letters, from Jane Austen to the Grand Tour, from Totò to the Hobbit, and then the letter M, for the City of Milan, which has opened its doors to the new event and which, with the collaboration of BookCity, will host events on the fringes of the trade fair, involving theatres, bars, bookshops and libraries.

Twenty-six letters, twenty-six keywords, twenty-six tags (plus one, @) will act as a compass to meetings and round tables, with important Italian and international guests. For them all, the networked nature of the programme – open and interactive – will not entail a collapse into noise and chaos: out of respect for the authors and the public, the meetings will take place in spaces that always facilitate listening, reflection and the sharing of knowledge.

The network structure and the vivacious and creative spirit of the alphabet will contribute to the development of a rich and varied programme, enhanced by unprecedented partnerships such as that with the Lucca Comics & Games Festival, the main Italian event for fantasy, comics and video games, which will develop over the coming months and will bring to the Trade Fair a wonderful and innovative talent scouting event.

Tempo di Libri also gives special consideration to younger readers, with a series of initiatives involving children of pre-school age, pupils of primary and secondary schools and young adults, up to the world of university.

The entire publishing chain will be involved, both hosting events such as the 2017 annual general meeting of the ALI – Associazione Librai Italiani, and by defining an ambitious professional programme. Tradition will go hand in hand with innovation, paper with digital, bestselling authors with YouTubers, the champions of popularity on the web.

The Trade Fair will develop its international scope, thanks to initiatives such as the MIRC – Milan International Rights Centre, 3,000 square metres used to show off the best of Italian publishing production to rights managers across the world (in which participation will be free for Tempo di Libri exhibitors). There will also be spaces where the alphabet will form fun and unexpected words and scenarios, always with a view to interacting with the public: such as the A tavola area, focusing on food and wine publishing, where visitors will be able to sample the creations of great chefs in over fifty events.

Established from the encounter between 147 years of history and experience of the Associazione Italiana Editori and the expertise of Fiera Milano (the world’s third biggest trade fair operator), organised by La Fabbrica del Libro (the new company chaired by Renata Gorgani with managing director Solly Cohen), Tempo di Libri represents, above all, a unique opportunity for Italian publishers, allowing them to exploit 35.000 square metres of cutting-edge, modern and fullyequipped exhibition space, in order to promote reading and books. All exhibitors will be the stars without distinction on size or specialisation: the big names and small and medium publishers, publishing houses operating in the education sector and those publishing professional books, bestsellers and titles that are hard to find in bookstores. The public will be given the chance to explore the breadth and richness of Italian publishing, in a spirit of community and communication which is even expressed in the staging: small and large publishers will stand alongside each other, involved in a continuous dialogue on the many issues deriving from the twenty-six keywords of the alphabet.

An original feature of Tempo di Libri is its organisational structure. Instead of a single artistic director, there will be a team of four curators (Chiara Valerio for the general programme, Pierdomenico Baccalario for 0-18, Nina Klein for digital and Giovanni Peresson for professional), who form part of the Scientific Committee coordinated by Renata Gorgani. The scheduling will also be original: Tempo di Libri will not be a five day one-off, but a process that develops throughout the entire year, with events staged across Italy. There will be an initial preview: the meeting in January with Pinar Selek, on the book Miraculous Mandarin by the Turkish writer and journalist Asli Erdogan and on issues of freedom of the press. Notably, in the special alphabet of Tempo di Libri, the letter D stands for dissident. The discussion will focus on how the freedom of the press and the freedom of publication, in a world made up of words, perhaps even comes before the alphabet.

0-18: The programme for youngsters and schools

Tempo di Libri will be a very welcoming place for youngsters. A programme will be offered to our future readers which will stimulate their curiosity and energy. Its name – 0-18 – is certainly not a hyperbole. At the Trade Fair, great thought really will be given to all young readers, starting from children at pre-school age, protagonists (along with their parents) of the partnership entered into by Associazione Italiana Editori with Nati per leggere. During the Fair, the Decalogue of rules and good practices will be distributed to try to ensure that children who cannot yet read become interested in the world of books. In addition, operators, doctors, nursery teaching staff and parents will be invited to visit the spaces specifically designed for them.

The programme will cover all ages, with an articulated series of events – staged in collaboration with Fabrica – aimed at students of primary schools, first grade secondary schools and second grade secondary schools. Reading and discovery will merge with play and creativity, exploring both the horizons of virtual communication (the letters of the alphabet transformed into hashtags, with the older children being invited to reinvent them in the form of Instagram contents) and those of class workshops. The approach to Tempo di Libri will in fact be gradual, with initiatives that schools can book in advance and run throughout the initial months of the year, meetings during the days of the Fair (at which youngsters will also be given a passport, in which to collect stamps from the visited stands and the events in which they participate) and appendices that will continue even after its conclusion. Young readers will have the chance to play with books, to discover and investigate their concepts, to dialogue with the authors, to become, along with them, writers, editors, translators and art-directors, to challenge other schools to duels of adventurous creativity, to read and correct books in advance, to change their covers, to invent new characters which will then be published in authentic series of novels…and much more. The first date to be marked on the calendar is January 2017, when all initiatives will be published and open to booking by schools on the Fair’s internet channels. Just beyond the age range of 0-18, there will then be a programme for universities. Tempo di Libri will collaborate with universities from Milan, Lombardy and the whole of Italy in designing special courses, reflecting above all on research and innovation. Joint initiatives will also be launched with the Master’s Degree in Publishing, with a focus more directly linked to the issues and prospects of the professional world.

The professional programme

The professional programme of Tempo di Libri will also be developed with the aim of interweaving and integrating with the entire Fair. The section dedicated to publishing professionals will certainly not be isolated or rigidly reserved to industry professionals, without points of contact with the rest of the event, but will be a time for reflection on the industry that – being permeated by the model of the alphabet that is key in the general programme – will develop in many directions, opening up to involvement by all those taking part at the Fair. The starting point will be a return to the roots of the word “professional”, working on the idea that all stages in the life of a book are the result of work that combines training, curiosity, update and discussion. This approach will be accompanied by the vision of an industry that must learn to reinvent itself, addressing the many challenges of the present and the future, following supply chain logics and not those of the trade.

In concrete terms, the programme will present a series of meetings, conventions and workshops with the aim of allowing publishing professionals to meet, gain awareness and discuss, offering, at the same time, update tools. From graphics to translation, marketing to digital technologies and distribution (physical and digital), all fields and unknowns of the contemporary publishing world will be put under the microscope. Market data will be analysed, comparing the similarities and differences between Italian and foreign industries and discussing the internationalisation process that now appears to be a crucial step for any publishing company. There will be a reflection on the paths to be taken in order to have a concrete effect on the current situation, taking as an example the memorandum of understanding on which Tempo di Libri and the Municipality of Milan are working, with the aim of facilitating the opening of new bookshops on the outskirts of the city. The emerging sectors will be analysed (such as religious publishing, young adults’ publishing, graphic novels), highlighting the mechanisms and attempting to foresee any successors. The reflection will be expanded to the whole industry of contents, inviting associations operating in the world of audiovisual, music, video games, newspapers and live event organisation to participate so as to try to understand together how the world of cultural consumption is changing and to identify strategic synergies that may respond to the change. An issue will also be dealt with that we thought (and hoped) had been overcome – that of the freedom of the press and expression – but which is, instead, returning with bitter topicality in numerous Countries, with a series of events staged in collaboration with the Federation of European Publishers which, always with a view to interweaving and inclusion, will be offered both at the Fair and externally.

Overall, the aim will be to offer a new look at an industry and a market that in recent times have changed extraordinarily, often subverting traditional models and dynamics, likely to continue their transformation even in years to come. All content industries will be offered a broad range of events and opportunities for update, discussion and debate. Moving towards the future, even the professional alphabet of publishing requires an update.

@: The digital side of Tempi di Libri

For many years, simplification has reigned supreme: at one time, in order to address the relationship between books and digital technologies, one only had to think of e-books. Tempo di Libri offers a broader perspective, showing how innovation is not restricted to the dimension, albeit significant, of “e-books”, but stretches also to all those tools offered by the digital world to make the sector more efficient (products, services, processes) and those areas used by the public to share their experiences, passions, writing and reading (from social networks to the world of Wattpad). Many letters and keywords of contemporary living will be the protagonists. There will be the YouTubers, stars of a fixed afternoon event in which they will interpret the Fair’s keywords, in constant dialogue with the world of books and with fans, who will not only be “spectators” but also part of the project; there will be the start-ups, beginning with those operating in the publishing industry, gathered into a fully-fledged “network for Made in Italy innovation”; there will be special events dedicated to digital literacy: to facilitate the acquisition of skills which is an absolute value in the design of future publishing, for readers, authors, publishers and any operator in the industry of books. Finally, special attention will be paid to the concept of coding, both from the perspective of the capacity to write software, learning to master another language which is the star of narration of the digital century, and from that of “decoding”, interpreting how the digital world is changing our way of reading, writing, publishing, interacting, thinking and dreaming. It is a cultural and social revolution that must be the star of a great event dedicated to culture and aimed at society such as Tempo di Libri.

Between Aldus and MIRC: the international dimension  of Tempo di Libri

The international dimension of Tempo di Libri will not just be measured on the participation of great authors, publishers and guests from abroad. A distinctive feature of the Fair will be its attention to the internationalisation of the Italian product: foreign operators will arrive not only to negotiate rights but above all to get to know our country’s publishing excellences. From this perspective, a very important role will be played by the Associazione Italiana Editori as coordinator of Aldus, the European network of Book Fairs. Established in June 2016, this initiative aims to provide a context for collaboration and exchange for all organisations involved in staging trade fairs and professional events dedicated to publishing and involves both the biggest continental Fairs (Frankfurt’s Buchmesse, Bologna Children’s Book Fair), and smaller but extremely dynamic events such as Più Libri Più Liberi in Rome, Lisbon in Portugal, Bucharest in Romania.

From 19 to 21 April, Tempo di Libri will host the MIRC – Milan International Rights Centre, an event aiming to encourage international contacts both for large groups and for small and medium publishers, with a view to increasing sales volumes of the rights of Italian titles abroad. The occasion will be doubly interesting, given that all exhibiting publishers at Tempo di Libri will be entitled to free participation. MIRC will occupy a space of approximately 3.000 square meters, with soundproof walls to create a confidential space for negotiations between operators. Subject to registering online, the event will be targeted at editors, managers of rights of publishing houses, literary agents and talent scouts.

Milan (and more): Tempo di Libri and Italy

The Fair will be included in a wider project to promote reading which the Associazione Italiana Editori is taking forward, hoping to involve the entire national territory. It is a cross-sectional project, both from the geographical perspective and due to the structure of the programme and events. Tempo di Libri in fact supplements two other large events, already rooted in the country: the fair for small and medium publishers Più Libri Più Liberi in Rome and the #ioleggoperché project, which – thanks to the participation and generosity of citizens – brings hundreds of thousands of books into school libraries across Italy. The new Fair will not only be crucial in the short-term, but will facilitate the construction of a network of continuity – both in terms of time and contents – dedicated to the development of innovative reading promotion practices. The ultimate aim is to spread books, reading and publishing everywhere, even reaching those areas of the country that suffer most from the lack of bookshops. It is a journey that has just begun but that, in the coming months, will be developed with new stages in the cities of Southern Italy.

Tempo di Libri

Tempo di Libri is organised by La Fabbrica del Libro, a company created by Milano Fiera and Ediser (services company of Associazione Italiana Editori). The Fair will take place in the pavilions of Fiera Milano Rho from 19 April to 23 April 2017, open from 10am to 7:30pm. The programme is curated by Chiara Valerio (general programme), Pierdomenico Baccalario (0-18), Nina Klein (digital) and Gianni Peresson (professional). The four curators form part of a wider Scientific Committee which has the task of discussing the guidelines on the general contents of the event, developing proposals and special projects. Coordinated by Renata Gorgani (President of La Fabbrica del Libro), the Committee consists of the publishers Luigi Brioschi, Mirka Daniela Giacoletto Papas, Roberto Gulli, Antonio Monaco; Filippo Del Corno – Councillor for Culture of the Municipality of Milan; Alberto Galla – President of Associazione Librai Italiani; Stefano Parise – Director of Milan’s Fiera.

Tempo di Libri is on the Internet at the address www.tempodilibri.it, on Facebook (@TempodiLibriMilano), on Twitter (@TempodiLibri) and on Instagram (@tempodilibri). November saw the inauguration of the Tempo di Libri newsletter, a periodic online publication containing all updates, innovations, information and special initiatives linked to the Fair and the world of publishing, reading and books. The newsletter is free and can be received by e-mail by registering on www.tempodilibri.it.

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