photo: Daniel Bednarz / The Book Institute

Grand opening of the Polish pavilion at the LIBER Book Fair in Madrid [video]

The LIBER International Book Fair in Madrid, at which Poland acted as Guest of Honour, began on 4th October. The Polish presentation at the most important trade fair in the Spanish-speaking world was prepared by the Book Institute in cooperation with the Polish Institute in Madrid.

The LIBER International Book Fair is the most important event for the publishing industry in Spain and the Spanish-speaking part of Latin America. The event is held every year, alternating between Barcelona and Madrid. The fair brings together publishers, literary agents, and other participants not only from Spain, but from the entire Spanish-speaking publishing market. This year, Poland played a special role at the LIBER Book Fair as the event's Guest of Honour.

"I am delighted that we have the opportunity to learn first-hand about the Polish publishing market, but also about translation programmes that help to strengthen relations between Poland and Spain. It is thanks to them that this 'cultural exchange' between our countries is possible at all," Miquel Iceta Llorens, Minister of Culture and Sport of the Spanish Government, said in Madrid.

The day before, the grand opening of the Polish pavilion designed by the architect Jan Strumiłło's design studio took place. The Polish stand was a space for discussions with both publishers and representatives of the Book Institute. The programme included an industry section - presentations and debates that provided an opportunity to share experiences with representatives of the Spanish and Spanish-speaking book markets. The fair included a series of meetings related to, for example, the development of children's literature, reading programmes, or new technologies in the book market. Accompanying events were also organised in collaboration with the Polish Institute in Madrid, enabling participants to learn about Poland's rich cultural offer, including non-literary activities.

"We are coming to talk about the Polish experience of promoting and supporting literature. Promoting not only books or authors themselves, but also publishers or booksellers - for example, to save small, beautiful and at the same time extremely culture-creating places. Spaniards want to listen; they want to find out how we do it in Poland. We also come to talk about what is interesting in Polish literature, what is worth recommending to publishers. We want Polish literature to be read and for the Polish soul, the Polish identity, to be understood through literature. We don't want Poland to be just a strange country from Calderon's work for Spanish readers,” said Dariusz Jaworski, director of the Book Institute, at the opening of the Polish pavilion.

Daniel Fernández, President of the Association of Spanish Publishers, pointed out that there are more links between Polish and Spanish literature - and simply between Poland and Spain - than one might assume at first glance.

"One might get the impression that Poland and Spain are distant countries. However, when we get to know each other, it turns out that we have many things in common: the important position of the family in society or Christian values - so, we are closer than we think. Of course, there are also links in the literary field. The best examples are Jan Potocki's The Saragossa Manuscript, Pedro Calderon de la Barca's Life is a Dream, but there is also no shortage of them in recent literature or the poetry of Adam Zagajewski, awarded the 2017 Princess of Asturias Award for Literature. I also have the impression that our countries easily fall in love with each other - when Spaniards go to Poland, they come back delighted. I know it works the other way round too," said Daniel Fernández, President of the Association of Spanish Publishers.

The Polish stand with a total area of 120 m2 showcased 21 Polish exhibitors from the industry. Among them were publishing houses, literary agencies, printing houses, cultural institutions, and other entities related to the Polish publishing market. The following came to Madrid with us: Adamada, ArtRage, BZGraf, the Centre for Contemporary Art "Znaki Czasu" in Toruń, Domirea, DTAgency, Grupa Wydawnicza Foksal, Fundacja, inkBOOK, the International Cultural Centre, Agencja KaBooks, Mamania / Grupa Wydawnicza Relacja, OZGraf, Papierowy Motyl, PKB GROT, Rosikon Press, Topo Sármata, Title, Wydawnictwo Kobiece, Wydawnictwo Literackie, and Wydawnictwo Poznańskie.

The LIBER International Book Fair in Madrid also unveiled the Spanish version of this year's “New Books from Poland” catalogue. The catalogue features 28 Polish books that were published within the last year. We were keen to have as much variety as possible in the titles we present, so the catalogue features novels, short story collections, non-fiction, and also comics. Among the authors whose works are presented in this year's catalogue are such names as Wiesław Myśliwski, Zyta Rudzka, Maciej Hen, Anna Goc, Rafał Kosik, Anna Piwkowska, and Andrzej Nowak. In view of the fact that Spanish publishers have also been interested in Polish literature for the youngest readers for a long time, a separate catalogue was also available at the Polish stand, which presents the most interesting achievements in the field of recent Polish children's books.

The main objective of Poland's presence as Guest of Honour at the LIBER Book Fair was to strengthen the presence of Polish literature in Spain. It was also an excellent opportunity to make new contacts in the Latin American market. It is worth noting that it is usually Latin American countries that are the guest of honour at LIBER, so the choice of Poland was a great recognition.

Participation as a Guest of Honour at LIBER is part of a strategy to strengthen the presence in foreign markets as part of a three-year cycle. Last year, the Book Institute took an active part in the Barcelona Fair, while further initiatives to consolidate the presence of Polish literature in Spain are planned for 2024.

This year, the Book Institute will also take an active part in another major event in the Spanish-speaking world - the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico, where the European Union will be the guest of honour.


The project was co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.