SA Book Fair announces virtual event

The 2020 SA Book Fair is hosting a virtual event in support of the book industry during Covid-19
GOING ONLINE: The 2020 SA Book Fair is hosting a virtual event in support of the book industry during Covid-19
Image: SABF

The SA Book Development Council has announced that the 2020 edition of the SA Book Fair will be going ahead, but  as a virtual event from September 11-13 at the culmination of National Book Week.

A statement from the fair said the council was committed to “promoting the power and joy of books and reading, as well as to showcase, support, connect and provide a trading platform for the industry to ensure that books and reading stayed within people’s consciousness”.

In reimagining the 2020 fair, the emphasis is on providing a relevant, immersive and engaging virtual experience for readers, book lovers, authors, illustrators, poets and members of the book and publishing industry via a newly developed online platform.

The virtual fair, while a simplified version of the annual physical fair, will offer a full programme of stimulating discussions, entertainment and fun to ensure there is something for everyone.  

The virtual event will include poetry sessions, author-led panel discussions, SMME skills development workshops, the industry marketplace as well as the beloved National Book Week Magic Tent which will also take flight into the digital realm.

This popular part of the fair will offer children a programme of online storytelling, poetry sessions, writing and illustration workshops as well as motivational talks, and puppet and theatre shows.

Among the new 2020 highlights is a bespoke Battle of the Bookclubs literature quiz which will start during August, with the semifinal and final taking place during the fair.

The virtual fair will see more than 23 expert and author-led panels or sessions covering topical issues — and with the books to match.

Some of these sessions include:

  • Feminism (Our Bodies Our Truths; Perils of Patriarchy: Whenever, wherever, everyday — Confront, not Cower)

  • Race and identity (Black Lives Matter; white privilege; Dala What you Must: Stories from the Cape Flats; Breaking through Shame: Overcoming Societal Norms)

  • Relationships  and erotica (Husbands, Wives and Lovers: The Empresses of Erotica Share Their Secrets; Staying with the One: Faith, Love and Compromise)

  • Crime (investigative journalism; villains of past and present)

  • Food (Down to Earth: From Garden to Table; Kitchen Queen: Nourishment for the Soul, Glow for the Skin)

  • Travel (Collecting from Afar: Stories Full of Home)

  • Science fiction (Time, Space and the Anthropocene: Fiction and the Fall of Humankind)

  • Economics  (Is the Glass Half Empty? How to Create Economic Opportunity in SA)

  • Poetry (a poetry cafe with Hear My Voice)

The book fair’s marketplace has also moved online, making it more accessible for exhibitors to reach a wider audience.

“Supporting, connecting and showcasing the publishing industry during the enormous challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic is a key focus of this year’s event,” the organisers said.

“As part of building a reflective and representative SA and African literary culture, 26 beneficiaries have been selected for exhibition subsidies.

A  further 13 beneficiaries will join them for the training that is part of the comprehensive SMME skills development initiative made possible by the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Seta which funds an ongoing development programme and supports the fair.”

Further details and the full programme will be announced once tickets go on sale.


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