Turin Book Fair: the Rights Centre
Interview with Giorgia De Angelis and Lorenza Honorati, coordinators of the Rights Centre of the Turin International Book Fair
by Federica Malinverno, Actualitté
The last edition of the Turin Book Fair, Italy’s most important exhibition dedicated to publishing, held from 18 to 22 May 2023, was an extraordinary success and was visited by 215,000 people: an absolute record. But beyond this great success with the public, the Turin Fair is also an important appointment for book professionals, who meet every year at the Rights Centre, the section of the Fair specifically dedicated to business negotiations between Italian and foreign publishers.
To find out more, newitalianbooks met Giorgia De Angelis and Lorenza Honorati, coordinators of the Rights Centre.
How and when was the Rights Centre project born?
Lorenza Honorati: ‘The project was born some 20 years ago and had another name and another form. We joined a path that was already underway with the aim of developing it by following its guidelines, in agreement also with the editorial consultants who help the salon promote the various projects.”
Giorgia De Angelis: “A big ‘before and after’ is marked by the pandemic, as we have started a renovation work precisely in 2020.”
Lorenza Honorati: “2021 is year zero for us because that’s when things changed: we changed the structure, the way we participated in the project. For example, for the first time we introduced the purchase of the table, of the workstation, to give more professionalism to the project and the area. We started to think in a more organic and structured way.”
And how did this last edition go?
Lorenza Honorati: “From 2022 to 2023, we saw a big change in the number of participations. The new project has been positively received by participants: last year we had around 450 participants in total, registered on our platform; today there are 560. In addition, the number of foreign professionals invited to the Fellowship project increased from 40 to 130. The number of countries represented also increased, from 21 to 46. And this was possible thanks to the support of ICE (Istituto per il Commercio Estero), which sponsors the editorial part of the Show, and which saw our project and believed in it. We really took a leap!”
Giorgia De Angelis: “Furthermore, by encouraging the participation of professionals from the publishing market, the world of podcasts and cinema also took an interest in the project.”
In addition to the efforts made by the organisers and the funding bodies, what do you think this success is due to?
Giorgia De Angelis: “On the one hand, the professionals definitely wanted to meet again after the pandemic. In fact, all the fairs, not only the one in Turin, were very well attended; on the other hand, there was also word of mouth, in the sense that if people meet in Turin, this triggers a chain of presences that then strengthens the market. And we see this in the foreign and Italian participation. Finally, having an audience fair where all Italian publishing is represented facilitates this meeting mechanism’.
Can you have an idea of what the economic and commercial weight of these three days is, in terms of contracts concluded, for example?
Lorenza Honorati: ‘It is very difficult. Often contacts are made here, negotiations begin, but the number of contracts concluded is not disclosed by the participants.”
Giorgia De Angelis: “We can, however, see how much the platform grinds in terms of appointments, and this still gives us an indication of how effective the interest is in the end, even if we only have a partial picture.”
What is it and how exactly does this platform work?
Lorenza Honorati: “It is a platform for making appointments: all participants sign up and can ask for an appointment during the three days that the Rights Centre is open. The platform works on an algorithmic basis and automatically places professionals on the basis of hourly availability, creating an appointment schedule for them. The number of appointments requested for the fair was around 5,000 this year. On the other hand, we have no record of what happens in the Rights Centre space during the fair and during other networking activities.”
The Turin Book Fair has always been mainly aimed at the general public, but you seem to be investing a lot in the direction of professionalising the fair. From this point of view, what kind of future do you see for the fair?
Giorgia De Angelis: ‘In general, we are aiming for an internationalisation of the fair. This is certainly a very interesting long-term perspective, because Italian publishing is already present in Turin, and what we can try to do is to look a little further afield. Moreover, the Rights Centre is spread over three days, but the international part of the fair is not limited to this. There is a synergetic work with foreign institutions to promote culture outside their country that has an impact on all areas of the fair. In fact, we always try to invite many foreign authors’.