This year, The LBF will have 139 participants, more than 980 editors’ seals, and the same 340 pavilions as in 2022.
The reason for this space restriction is the logistics involved in preparing World Youth Day, scheduled for the beginning of August, which is being discussed between the Portuguese Editors and Bookkeepers Association, the Lisbon Council, and the World Youth Day organisers.
“We’ve been working with the Lisbon council since very early on to figure out when we could put on this fair,” and once the date was decided, it was necessary to study “how to maintain the whole structure” and “how to dismount it,” Sobral said, guaranteeing the entities involved “have been coordinated for a long time. In the end, it wasn’t possible to grow, despite us always having more requests from editors and bookkeepers,” Sobral told, specifying how from an estimate of 379 pavillions, “The LBF really did have to stay at 340, because of logistics.” He explained that contact with the local government was “sufficiently early to understand that they’d keep us at last year’s size,” and that “the information arrived in time for us not to invest in new equipment.”
In the meantime, though, the pavilions received upgrades, and the accessibility will get an upgrade too to correct some difficulties people with reduced mobility had to deal with.
The “H Hour” stays the same, but the fair’s timetables have suffered a slight alteration: instead of closing at midnight, it’ll now be closing at 10pm on weekdays, and 11pm on weekends and bank holiday eves.
For this edition, “many more writers” and “more international authors than last year” are expected, affirmed Pedro Sobral, who’s noted an increase in “the proactivity of writers, they say they want to be at the fair,” instead of simply waiting for an invite. He hopes, for this reason, that this year there’ll be an increase in contact between writers and the audience, which in 2022 was between 770 and 790 thousand visitors.
This expectation is directly linked to the growth of the book market that’s been noticed since 2021, and that in the first trimester of this year was at 12%.
“Beyond the post-pandemic recovery, there’s been a change in reading habits. Portugal has one of the worst reading indexes, but there’s a growing interest in the purchase of books for personal reading,” when, traditionally, most books bought were as gifts. Sobral pointed out that there’s occurring a “movement of new readers, between 18 and 30 years old, spearheaded by social media.” In previous fairs, there were “whole groups of kids who knew what they wanted, who went looking for specific books, in Portuguese but also many in English. There’s a lot of curiosity on the part of various associations in other countries, who want to see how a country with reading indexes so low can maintain an event like this, on hilly terrain and with variable weather, attracting so many people.”
Lisbon council’s director of Culture, Laurentina Pereira, representing mayor Carlos Moedas, highlighted that the Lisbon Book Fair will be the first of the festivals in Lisbon and reminded that this is one of the “biggest events in the city and with one of the biggest publics, be it June or September, come rain or shine.”