Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How much does that book cost?

Last Thursday, April 24, was the first day of the 34th Feria del Libro, Buenos Aires's wildly popular annual book fair, where hundreds of publishers promote thousands of new books and hundreds of thousands of Porteños browse the offerings over two weeks. Occupying more than 45,000 square meters of display space in the Palermo fairgrounds, it's one of the city's signature events, with personal appearances by authors from throughout the Spanish-speaking world and beyond. The biggest English-speaking names this year are novelist/journalist Tom Wolfe and social critic Naomi Klein, who has also made a documentary film about grassroots responses to Argentina's economic and political meltdown of 2002. The fair will continue until May 12 (the photo above is from last year's event).

In marginally related news, the governor of Salta province has demanded that the publisher responsible for a school atlas that shows the Falkland Islands (Malvinas to Argentines) under British control reprint the 30,000 books rather than cover the offending map with an adhesive overlay. If, as was reported earlier, the total cost of the books was US$2.3 million, this means that the provincial school system paid about US$77 per copy. The provincial education minister lost her job over the atlas scandal but, if those statistics are correct, she deserved it even more if she, or someone else in her department, really laid out that kind of money for such a small run of a fifth-grade text.

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