Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bookish travel: The book week in Jerusalem

Every two years, Jerusalem hosts the International Book Fair, a prestigious event in the area, gathering top notch writers and edition houses from all over the world. In-between fairs, the most important bookish events are local fairs taking place at the same locations of the fair, particularly the First Station - Tahana Rishona. This year, as I was in the area, I wanted to have a look at some of the edition houses and books presented - mostly in Hebrew.
The event, the 55th fair in the history of Israel, took place in Tel Aviv too, hosted in the Kikar Rabin - Rabin Square, as well as in at least 40 locations across the country. As usual at such events, it is important to be around for the significant discounts, but also for side events that are usually taking place, dedicated to children or adults, book signings or concerts. 
The translations to Hebrew are impressive, as the local book productions. A significant successful and steady book segment is represented by children books. Religious books do have their usual customers, with high demands all over the world, everywhere Jewish communities are living. As everywhere, the e-books are becoming more and more popular and the main topics of interest are, according to the representatives of the industry: commercial novels, life style, thrillers DIY and self-help or new age books. 
As everywhere in the world, the book industry in Israel went through a serious crisis in the 2012 and is still coping with various difficulties. Independent bookstores are surviving very hard, faced with two big chains that are also not doing always too well. A 2014 law is aimed to fix the book prices, at least for a determined period of time, but the representatives of the book industry are not very keen with many of the previsions. I suppose the book buyers too, who were actually encouraged to buy more books at low prices. Aparently, the over discounts policies brough the famous Steinmatzsky chain - my main supplier of book when in Israel, when it is not my favourite bookstore in Mea Shearim, with many English books too - close to bankrupcy a couple of years ago. 
Most probably, many of the participants at the Book week did not care too much about the state-of-art of the book industry. They were here because they loved book, and every time I see small children searching and asking about and for their favourite books I cannot but hope that everything gonna be fine.

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