Interview with Bogota International Book Fair 2017

One of Colombia’s (and Latin America’s) most important cultural and literary events, the Bogota International Book Fair will provide you with more than just Gabriel Garcia Marquez – you’ll also get to enjoy well over 1000 cultural events on the side, along with literary gems from all the biggest Latin authors along with many promising, up-coming names.

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This year, the FILBo 2017 will be celebrating it’s 30th anniversary. So we thought we’d conduct an interview with the Fair’s manager, Ms. Sandra Pulido Urrea, to discover what’s so special about this year’s event, as well as France’s role as the country guest of honor at this milestone event. FILBo will be held from the 25th of April till the 8th of May this year.

Hello Sandra, congratulations on the festival’s 30 year anniversary this year and thanks for conducting this interview with us. Let’s jump straight in;

What’s new for this year that visitors must make a note to see and do?

This year we have a brand new reinforced Business Center. Last year we had more than 100 publishers, agents, scouts and buyers coming from various parts of the world, so we definitely expect to increase the assistance this year and make of FILBo the most important business meeting of the Latin-American Publishing field in the first half of the year. Also, the 13th National Reading Congress of “Fundalectura”, which takes place every two years, will address several issues and will focus on topics related to peace, reconciliation and coexistence. And since we´re celebrating the “Colombia-France year”, France will be our guest of honor with a very modern pavilion dedicated to children`s literature and comics.

How will you be celebrating the festival’s 30 years anniversary?

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary, We are celebrating that the city of Bogotá has risen up to become one of the most important in the Latin American book industry; I, personally, celebrate the literature that brings us closer together and helps us reconcile with one another, restores harmony and piece. I celebrate books that make us bond and build relationships. And of course, I celebrate 30 years of stories that have changed not only a book fair or its industry but its entire city and country.

For our anniversary, we will celebrate with events for our visitors: books, words, letters, music, food, movies, academia and professionals… all these wonderful things that makes us come together in one place for 14 days.

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How will the festival impact the future of Colombian publishing?

We expect this book fair to promote and encourage the Colombian book trade, we want foreign agents and scouts to see what we have to offer and improve our competition in the Spanish speaking market. Many of our publishers have become renowned. We are proud to announce that one of our publishers “Babel Libros” just won a very distinguished prize at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in the New Horizons category. It’s the first publisher to win two prizes in one year! We expect this to increase the interest of visitors who are seeking to buy rights.

How do you expect that highlighting France, as guest city of the year, will affect the overall experience of the festival?

We expect to develop more successful business relationships with France, have more Colombian visitors at the “Salon du Livre” of Paris and also have more Colombians writers translated into French. During the book fair, we also hope to attract new audiences at the France Pavilion which is going to be huge, focused on graphic novels, Children’s books and Young Adult Literature. This pavilion also was a very interesting proposal designed by a well-known Colombian architect called Manuel Villa who will make us feel as if we are walking through Paris. We hope the global audience can appreciate the pictures of that pavilion through social media, because it´s going to be beautiful.

Once all the hard work is done for 2017, what will you be doing during the book fair itself? Do you get to participate as an observer, or are you running around on call?

When one is part of the organizers of an event, one hardly get to be a visitor. I have to be in control of everything but fortunately, we have a great team. So, that makes me “free” to visit several events that I won´t miss for the world! During the book fair, I´ll be attending and monitoring, most of all, the events for professionals, those that include not only the “International Business Center”, but also all kinds of activities such as the Librarians Annual Conference, the Copyright Seminars, the University Presses forum, The Illustration Convention and our most important Publisher Seminar.

What contemporary or classic authors do you recommend to friends and acquaintances?

I would like to recommend a contemporary Colombian writer with a very fresh view, his name is Pablo Montoya and he recently won a very important literary award in the Spanish speaking world, “the Casa de las Américas Award” at the Havana Book Fair in Cuba. He has an extensive literary work: short stories, poetry, novel, essays, and literary critique. He is one of many good authors that are doing a very good job.

This year the Book Fair is celebrating all the new writers who published their first book: Andrés Mauricio Muñoz, Rubén Orozco, Manuela Espinal Solano, Fernando Araújo Vélez, Felipe Restrepo Pombo, María Ospina, Juan José Ferro, Juliana Restrepo, Gloria Esquivel, Gilmer Mesa and Paul Brito. Definitely, you won´t regret reading their works.

Thank you very much, Sandra. We hope you have a successful milestone event this year that leads to bigger successes in the future.

Well, there you have it folks. We honestly wish we could be there this year, but sadly, our schedules are all fully packed. But don’t let us stop you from getting the most out of this Latin American literary fiesta on it’s 30th birthday. With that, we wish all the organizers and attendees, a most fruitful book fair.

The Bogota International Book Fair will be held from the 25th of April till the 8th of May this year.

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