Interview with Raffaele Riba from the fair’s editorial staff.
Viaggio in Italia: Milan (and Genoa), Book Pride
Interview by Laura Pugno
Viaggio in Italia (attraverso premi e festival) (A Journay Through Italy (through awards and festivals)) tells the story of our country through interviews with organizers and participants of major literary festivals and the most important events on the publishing calendar. On italiana.esteri.it and on New Italian Books.
In this second instalment, our destination is Milan, where, after a digital edition in 2021, Book Pride, the national fair for independent Italian publishers, returns from 4 to 6 March to the new headquarters of SuperStudio Maxi in the Via Famagosta area. The leadership of writer Giorgio Vasta is being taken over by a young collective composed of Federica Antonacci, Anastasia Martino, Raffaele Riba, Federica Principi and Alice Spano. The theme of the 2022 edition is ‘Multitudes’, and is divided into four categories: alliances, proximity, living everything from all sides, and dedications. The visual interpretation of the theme is being entrusted to graphic novel artist Antonio Pronostico. In the past, BookPride has collaborated with various Italian Cultural Institutes, including Tokyo and Melbourne.
Raffaele Riba answers our questions:
How was Book Pride conceived and how is it evolving?
Book Pride was founded in 2016 by a group of independent publishers with the idea of creating a self-financed event dedicated to this sector. It was a necessity: independent publishing is often made up of small groups of people who are passionate and tenacious, who create unique and non-vertically integrated brands by doing research in Italy and on foreign catalogues. It’s a kind of artisanal publishing, so they needed a space of their own beyond the large fairs that already exist in Italy Today, and thanks to initiatives such as Book Pride, the independent market for books accounts for almost 50% of the entire market.
Over time, Book Pride has also been expanded with an autumn edition in the city of Genoa, thanks to the collaboration with Palazzo Ducale.
Since its inception, Book Pride has worked to establish a project that strikes a strong balance between the fair and programming aspects, adding its own internal programme to the numerous presentations of the exhibitors, one which seeks to embody the chosen theme from all angles. The 2019 edition in Milan was such a success with the public and the press, but also with publishers, that for the 2020 edition Book Pride would have welcomed over 200 publishers with an total programme of about 350 events including presentations from publishing houses, the internal programme and the OFF programme. Unfortunately, the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic forced the organization to cancel the Milan event less than a month after the opening of the fair. With the pandemic ongoing, Book Pride has decided to take a year off to strengthen the organization and to return in-person in 2022 with many new features. In this new context, the event establish some stability as a publishing event in the first part of the year in Milan and to continue its growth in Genoa in the second part of the year, maintaining its focus on the great variety offered by the independent publishing sector.
What relationship does your event have to the city and the local area?
Relationships with the local area, in the cities of Milan and Genoa, are crucial.
During the course of its evolution, as described above, Book Pride has developed various networks and relationships aimed at rooting itself in the urban fabric of the two cities. In Milan, the long-standing partnership with the Area Biblioteche del Comune di Milano (Libraries Area of the Municipality of Milan) has meant that Book Pride could create events and collaborations within the city’s library system, for example with previews and dedicated programmes in different libraries. In Genoa, the central importance of the Palazzo Ducale to Genoese cultural life has made Book Pride one of the events of the season for readers, not only from Genoa but also from Liguria in general. Tireless activity has created a wealth of agreements and connections between the network of bookstores in the two cities, including theatres, reading clubs, magazines, online magazines, book bloggers and influencers, distinctive cultural figures, and Italian and foreign institutions located in the area. This is the great strength of Book Pride and the main thing that we want to strengthen with the upcoming events by weaving a dense web between the places and people of the cities of Milan and Genoa. All this is always in the name of independent publishing.
What advice would you give to a cultural tourist coming to Milan on the occasion of Book Pride?
After having a good breakfast in Piazza Duomo, take the metro B, get off at the Famagosta stop, in a historical and densely populated district of Milan that you would otherwise would not have the opportunity to see, and to enjoy the rich and articulated programme of Book Pride. There will be over 200 presentations, meetings and events exploring the chosen theme: Multitudes. Between one meeting and the next, you can visit the almost 200 stands full of the publishing companies present. Along with the publishers who are already established and rooted in the market (such as Adelphi, e/o, Sellerio, La nave di Teseo, Neri Pozza, to name but a few), there is the whole panorama of independents that is producing a diverse output, one capable of experimentation and innovation. After such a day, it will then definitely be time to return under the shadow of the Madunina to enjoy a traditional dish and an excellent glass of wine.