True Lithuania

Vilnius Book Fair 2015 concludes in a record

2015 02 23. Annual Vilnius International Book Fair concluded yesterday after a record 66320 people visited what is arguably the top regular intellectual event in Lithuania.

On the one hand, Vilnius Book Fair is the largest bookstore of Lithuanian books where every publishing house participates. The 4-day long "festival" is said to provide a large share of publishers' annual income as Lithuanians traditionally stock up cheaper reading material here for the entire upcoming year. There were 300 retail stalls spread over an area of 9 500 sq. m.

On the other hand, Vilnius Book Fair is also a venue of exchanging thoughts as its numerous conference rooms and halls are constantly occupied by regular "book presentations". Attended by authors, their fans, and passers-by, each crowded presentation goes well beyond the book itself, offering additional insights on the topic and related viewpoints.

Lithuanian/English book 'Medieval Lords of Lithuania' with paintings of Lithuanian medieval leaders presented by (right-to-left) its painter, sponsor, historian researchers and a military officer. Image ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

A 4,5 EUR ticket provides access to the entire day of events, making the Book Fair also a very inexpensive event per hour of entertainment.

Vilnius Book Fair tends to attract people from every social stratus. It is common to see top politicians, businessmen, and scientists mingling among the massive crowds. Some come simply to buy books, others to establish relations and participate in events, yet others give speeches or present/sell books themselves. Foreign "star-writers" are invited by local publishing houses in order to launch Lithuanian translations of their books more successfully.

The Book Fair has long since transgressed the publishing market. Stalls have been set up and presentation rooms reserved by foreign embassies, universities, religious and political organizations that also seek to share their ideas. Every year more space is added: used books hall, children hall and, since 2015, a hall for musical records with constant gigs on stage.

Needless to say, the "Litexpo" exposition palace halls get stretched beyond their limits every Book Fair. This leads to infamous traffic jams, parking on dirt, long queues and having to sit on the floor or stand throughout the popular book presentations - causing some intellectuals to avoid the Book Fair even if they would find it interesting.

The crowds walk among stalls at Vilnius Book Fair 2015. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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