This is the 84th edition of the Lisboa Book Fair, so it has had ample time to grow and mature. We watched as the rows of containers were lined up along both sides of sloping King Edward VII Park. They looked sterile, but what a change when we went back and the containers had been customized. Every single one looked different, depending on the bookstore or publisher occupying it.
Not sure how jam-packed the Book Fair is on weekends, but we strolled through on a Monday. There are 250 book vendors represented at the event running more than two weeks. Tented areas along the way provide space for small readings and autograph sessions.
Thirty food and beverage booths are interspersed among the book vendors, again all different. In between rows of booths are seating areas, each distinctively designed – some tables and chairs for adults; some pint-size reading or play “rooms” for children; and some laid out like comfortable lounges with living room furniture resembling a Copenhagen showroom.
How pleasant it looked to pause to peruse purchases over an espresso or glass of wine. Of course, we didn’t buy anything; naturally, most books are in Portuguese.
San Antonio, headed to its third edition of its Book Festival, has plenty of time and room to grow. The San Antonio Public Library Foundation already squeezes an incredible amount into one day, and, frankly, it’s so accessible because of the manageable size and close proximity of the venues.
One day, we’ll look back at these early San Antonio Book Festivals nostalgically, the same way old-timers reflect on the neighborhood intimacy of the first years of the King William Fair. Even now, the agenda is so crowded, decisions about which author sessions to attend are wrenching.
But, best of all, most of the featured books and readings at the San Antonio Book Festival are in a language I understand. Looking forward to the 2015 edition.