The Book Fair told from inside a booth


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The Madrid Book Fair has given much of itself for 9 decades. Today we discover its history and talk to its protagonists from inside the booth.

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Traveling bibliophilia: the most beautiful bookstores in the world


The Madrid Book Fair turns 85, as Yoko Ono and Roman Polanski have done, but it has only been held 77 times. He was born on April 23, 1933 in the Republican Spain of Alcalá Zamora, convulsed and determined, when 20 publishing firms gathered on the left side of Recoletos in their respective booths.

Books with a value of 43, 339.75 pesetas (a feat in those years) were sold in those colored booths where speakers were installed to listen to the writers of the moment reciting verses and harangues.

77 ediciones dan para mucha feria

77 editions give a lot of fair © Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

Such was the success of the first edition that the following year it was decided to target Mexico to give it an international boost. The prominence of the language was becoming increasingly evident, leaving its mark in successive years until the Civil War broke out in 1936 .

We would not have the Book Fair until 1944, under the name of the National Book Fair, making the distinctive dictatorship evident. In these years the Fair traveled to several cities, settling in Barcelona in 1946 and 1952 and in Seville in 1948 .

During the decade of the 50s, several initiatives appeared, such as dedicating each day of the Fair to a certain genre, already exceeding the number of booths one hundred.

Cuesta Moyano: la feria permanente

Cuesta Moyano: the permanent fair © Alamy

In the 60s, the Book Fair moved to its current location, El Retiro (1967), and began to be organized in other provinces simultaneously. This growth did not stop throughout the 70s, in which sales already exceeded 37 million pesetas (€ 222, 000) and began to look for new locations due to lack of space.

It was in 1979 when he had the fatal idea of ​​moving the Fair to the Country House, a failure that returned the Fair to El Retiro Park just one year later.

The 80s returned the name of the Madrid Book Fair to the event and brought the Royal House to the opening ceremony .

In the 90s the first web pages dedicated to the Book Fair appear and the “best-selling” fever that has so obscured the literary spirit begins.

A shared publication of the Madrid Book Fair (@ferialibromadrid) on Apr 27, 2018 at 4:21 p.m. PDT

The arrival of the new millennium causes a beastly change at the Fair. Cultural activities multiply.

In Madrid the Book Fair has already been associated as something very much from here, which speaks a lot about the customs of the city. Although we travel between lights and shadows.

Celebrities of the couché paper and stars of social networks come to capture much of the attention of readers to the detriment of established authors and novel writers who seek a place in the publishing world.

But that, better be told by those inside the booths this year.

A shared publication of the Madrid Book Fair (@ferialibromadrid) on May 25, 2017 at 10:51 PDT

Gema Nieto: from Romania with love

Gema nieto is a restless Madrilenian graduated in Hispanic Philology and Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature by the Complutense University .

He currently works in the world of publishing and collaborates in magazines, writing articles about books, comics and video games. His first novel , Belonging, was published by Trojan Horse in 2016 by Alberto Olmos.

This year, Gema will not sign copies of his novel, although he tells us that his second novel will be released shortly by Dos Mustaches.

"Membership" in the showcase of @Fnac_ESP in Callao. Run, fools, they run out! @CaballoTroyaEd - Gema Nieto (@ GemaNieto81) February 18, 2016

The guest country of the Fair will be Romania, taking the witness that Portugal left last year. The Romanian Cultural Institute has asked Nieto to participate in two of the activities they have organized (which he will be delighted) on Monday 4 in the presentation of the book Sick Relationships, by Cecilia Stefanescu, and on Wednesday 6 moderating a round table of writers Romanians who have published in our country.

During his first years in the publishing world he worked some weekends in the booths of the Fair, accompanying authors, recommending books or serving the public . For her, the Book Fair is a good cultural claim and that says a lot about Madrid's love for books, although there are also its shadows, due to certain purely commercial interests, supersaturation of the publishing market, show and famous emptiness.

The Book Fair is undoubtedly for Nieto an ideal meeting place between writers, publishers and booksellers and where you can greet acquaintances, recommend books and do interesting activities, to bring reading to the little ones too.

“If I am so critical, it is precisely because I would like the Fair to recover its original literary and cultural character and forget about celebrities and youtubers. Hopefully the best-selling books were those that contribute to love real literature, the one that hits us and does not leave us indifferent, the one that serves to ask us questions, learn, think and question everything, and not those that move readers away from it to accommodate them between toxic or harmless pages, ”explains Nieto.

An essential book for Gema Nieto? The noise and the fury, of William Faulkner.


Writer and journalist, collaborates with countless media. He has also given (and gives) writing workshops at La Casa Encendida and Fuentetaja . In 2017, coinciding with the Book Fair, he published his first novel, Las Prodigio Girls, edited by Fulgencio Pimentel . Now the errabunda is about to leave. First Iberian treatise on heterodox therapy, published by Lindo & Espinosa, an anthology of several authors in which he participates. He is currently writing his second book.

The first experience at the Book Fair was for Sabina very intense. He took the time to take photos from his peculiar point of view, with the indispensable company of his dog. And he signed many copies, perhaps more than he expected.

“The feeling of signing at the Fair, especially as a writer recently published for the first time, is strange: suddenly it turns out that all those unknown people who suddenly appear in the booth have read your book, or are reading it, or He is about to read it. I remember that feeling caused me constant nerves, a strange feeling, like helplessness. I slept badly at night. How was I going to sleep, if maybe there were people reading my book at that precise moment? It would have been like sleeping while someone unknown stared at me, ”says the author.

Sabina Urraca

Sabina Urraca © Cami Vidal Escobar

For Sabina, the Madrid Book Fair is still a reflection of ourselves: “ What there is is a love for customs, for the walk, to drop by the places we already know, the pleasure of the ritual of each repeating year And that, sometimes, is very beautiful, and it works to create very beautiful things, like the Book Fair, ”he explains.

In fact, that feeling of constant movement of people wandering around the places looking around, and being incipient interest in the books is possibly a sign of health in our literature for her.

The prodigy girls, who will sign this year at the Fair, is a work in which Sabina wants to show everything prodigious and dark in the life of a person who, from the outside, seems not to shine at all.

An essential book for Sabina Urraca? The Complete Stories of Lydia Davis (Seix Barral).

'Las niñas prodigio' de Sabina Urraca

'The prodigy girls' by Sabina Urraca © Sabina Urraca


Onubense living in Madrid. He graduated in Law and then specialized in Business Legal Advice at Carlos III University. From a young age, his path was linked to literature, as he wrote short films, short stories, newspapers .

“I have always liked to write, although I never seriously thought about publishing until I had more than half a written novel, it was then that I began to consider the possibility, ” the young man said.

And it is that, just a month and a half after the sale of his first novel, he is already on his way to the second edition and expresses a deep gratitude to the publishing house Max Estrella, which gave him the opportunity.

The hidden language of the waves is his first published novel. “It is a novel that plunges between the tragic and the romantic . A work that has been described by some readers as 'necessary'. I do not dare to say that it is necessary, but I would dare to ensure that it is a story that will not leave anyone indifferent after reading it, although more than a story I would say it is a journey, a path to inner discovery, towards progress ”, the author tells us.

And also, he marks his work as innocent and daring, suitable for all audiences, with characters that leave their mark, used as a link to freedom of thought, representation of the most beautiful things and a sample of the cultural and traditional complexity of the century in The one we live

Johan opens at the Book Fair convinced that it is a great opportunity to promote those titles that enjoy less publicity due to lack of resources. “From my humble point of view, I think that the big publishing groups saturate the market sometimes with books that contribute little or nothing and whose advertising avalanche ends up shading works by unknown authors that could bring great added value to Spanish literature and they don't get it just because they remain anonymous, ”says the young writer.

An essential book for Johan? The portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

A shared publication of? READER? (@librosconsentido) on May 22, 2018 at 10:26 PDT

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See 37 photos

Traveling bibliophilia: the most beautiful bookstores in the world