February 11, 2015
No second year for Toronto Book Fair
by Nick Davies
Last year, after the inaugural Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair, Canadian publishers were optimistic about the festival’s future. But on Monday, its organizers announced that the fair would not be returning for a second year.
Laura Godfrey writes for Publishers Weekly that executive directors John Calabro, Rita Davies, and Steven Levy issued a statement to the effect that, due to lack of commitments to participate from exhibitors, they wouldn’t be able to hold Inspire! again. The book fair’s Twitter page was quickly taken down, and its website now only shows the statement signed by the directors.
Director of sales and development Jesse Bernstein says, in the release, “After spending the last few months with a variety of stakeholders, there was a strong desire for and a palpable, positive feeling surrounding the second installment of INSPIRE! This is a tough loss for me and the entire INSPIRE! team; we’re really sad to see this go.”
The 2014 festival, geared towards consumers and the general public, reportedly drew 20,000-25,000 attendees over three days in November. It featured appearances from over 400 Canadian and international authors, including Margaret Atwood, Lev Grossman, Dav Pilkey, and Jeff Kinney.
The books editor of Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Mark Medley, took to Twitter to get feedback from the Canadian publishing world about what—if anything—could replace Inspire!
So, publishing people, do we need something to take the place of Inspire?
— Mark Medley (@itsmarkmedley) February 9, 2015
Some of the responses he received criticized the festival for not understanding Toronto’s literary scene, being scheduled too close to well established fairs such as Word on the Street and the International Festival of Authors, and not welcoming bookstores beyond the chain store Indigo—brought on as the official bookseller at the main stage, to the frustration of local indie booksellers.
Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.