Gothenburg Book Fair 2021

Oskar Ekström, Programme Director, and Frida Edman, Director, The Gothenburg Book Fair.
Photo: Pelle T Nilsson.

The Gothenburg Book Fair welcomes visitors to a covid-adapted event in both physical and digital format

All of Sweden’s book lovers will be able to get their fill when the Book Fair opens its doors on 23 – 26 September at Gothenburg’s Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre – in addition to online at Book Fair Play. The 2021 Book Fair will be a covid-adapted hybrid event featuring book sales, signings and author appearances in studio settings and on stage before a limited number of on-site visitors in Gothenburg. Our Book Fair Play streaming service will simultaneously be broadcasting live to the digital audience, who will be able to experience the biggest cultural event in the Nordic region at a time and place of their choosing. This year the event’s focus is on Nordic publishing, but there will also be international superstars taking their rightful places in the running order.

This year the Gothenburg Book Fair seminar programme consists of 650 authors, scientists, journalists and experts taking part in more than 250 seminars. Participants include story tellers like Swedish authors Stina Wollter, Patrik Lundberg and Liv Strömquist as well as international stars such as Jenny Colgan, Yuval Noah Harari and Jonathan Franzen. Furthermore this year’s fair encompass events at 13 stages, including Behold Man (Se Människan), The Global Square, The Scientist Square and The Teacher Stage.

It may seem the Gothenburg Book Fair is back in full swing. However, this September’s event – just like last year’s – is an adapted Book Fair. In order to manage the flow of people and minimise the risk of crowds, there will be more opportunities to engage in seated activities. The vast expanse of the exhibition facility will be adapted to accommodate recording studios for seminars and stages where seated visitors to the fair will be able to listen to their favourite authors speak. There will be significant limits imposed on the number of physical visitors permitted. On the exhibition floor, three local bookshops from the Gothenburg area will be working together to sell the books showcased in the programme: Bokskåpet, Lohrs Pocket Medmera and Mariaplans bokhandel.

“We are so glad that we can once again offer all the positive things that physical encounters between authors and readers provide, albeit to a limited extent and with an exhibition floor that has been adapted to reflect the prevailing situation. It transpired that the pandemic was the impetus for us to equip the event for the future and we are incredibly proud of the major transitions that we have made with the Book Fair during these difficult times,” says Frida Edman, Director of the Gothenburg Book Fair.

“The Book Fair’s seminar programme reflects our contemporary era, which means that each and every year it represents a kind of marker for the era we are in. This is particularly palpable this year, with programmed events exploring Sweden’s approach to Covid and to gang crime, as well as international perspectives on democracy in Russia, Hongkong, Myanmar, Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab world. We have assembled an inspiring and highly topical programme that will allow visitors to get to know great storytellers, debutants, investigative journalists, researchers, debaters and many others to boot,” says Oskar Ekström, Programme Director at the Book Fair.

The full programme at this year’s Book Fair will take place at the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre in Gothenburg in front of a limited live audience, and will also be broadcast live via Book Fair Play, where recordings will be available to watch until the end of the year. In order to attend in person, visitors require a studio ticket which is priced at SEK 995 per day. Day tickets include admission to the 2021 Book Fair on one day of the visitor’s choosing, as well as the opportunity to enjoy studio- and stage-based live events in addition to buying books and getting them signed. Furthermore, studio tickets grant access to the full programme on Book Fair Play (across all four days) until 31 December 2021, in addition to admission to the 2022 Book Fair.

Viewers who prefer digital access to the Book Fair are catered for with the Play ticket priced at SEK 395. This ticket is personal and tied to the viewer’s user profile at bokmassan.se. The programme will remain available to enjoy until 31 December 2021. Additionally, the Book Fair has separate, customised licences available for purchase by schools and libraries.

Book Fair Play
Last year saw the introduction of the Book Fair Play digital streaming service as a direct consequence of the pandemic. Book Fair Play has allowed the Gothenburg Book Fair to reach a new, wider audience of book lovers, both in Sweden and beyond. This year, the service has benefited from some upgrades, especially when it comes to book sales. Thanks to a partnership with online bookseller Adlibris, authors will gain direct exposure for their books with book covers shown immediately prior to and after broadcasts – and buyers will be able to buy the books discussed in each segment with just a few clicks. The Book Fair has also initiated long-term work to improve accessibility. This year, around 150 seminars will be broadcast with Swedish subtitles. The majority of these will be subtitled after they are recorded in a partnership with Plint, and will be available to watch via Book Fair Play from October. In addition, ten seminars about children’s and YA literature will be subtitled in English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese thanks to a partnership with the Swedish Arts Council.

New this year – Book Fair Deals
This year the experience for digital visitors to the Book Fair will be enhanced by the brand new Book Fair Deals service – a digital marketplace where exhibitors will be able to showcase information, films and offers such as the sale of books, training courses and other products. Book Fair Deals has been developed to ensure that digital visitors can also stock up on Book Fair goodies and Book Fair prices – traditionally highly popular features of the physical Book Fair. All offers will be on Book Fair Deals until 31 December.

Feel good gets its own strand
Another new feature this year is that the feel good genre has been given a dedicated strand in the seminar programme. This will focus on literature that lifts the mood. Suddenly, life takes a new turn, a crisis becomes a fresh start and lost loves return. Among the participants in this strand are Marit Danielsson, Emma Hamberg, Caroline Säfstam, Christoffer Holst, Marcus Jarl, Jenny Fagerlund, Camilla Davidsson and many more. Also featured will be British feel good star Jenny Colgan, who is back with two new books: 500 Miles From You and Christmas at the Island Hotel.

International authors
A number of the world’s leading international authors will be participating this year in pre-recorded conversations about fiction and non-fiction read and discussed the world over. Guests will include Emma Cline, Jonathan Franzen, Lori Gottlieb, Yuval Noah Harari, Douglas Stuart, Anthony Doerr and Dara McAnulty.
Read the list of all participating international authors >>

This year’s themes
This year’s programme comprises approximately 250 studio conversations, in addition to 13 stages with programmed events. There are three themes under the spotlight: Democracy, reading promotion theme READ! READ! READ! and Nordic literature.

The Democracy theme takes its point of departure from the centenary celebrations of universal suffrage in Sweden, and examines the challenges of our time, historical perspectives and the opportunities of the future. The theme, which is presented in partnership with the 100 Years of Democracy committee, the National Union of Teachers in Sweden, the Global Square, Majblomman, and the Swedish Media Council, encompasses around 30 seminars illuminating the role of schools, education, and media and information literacy, the function and mission of tech companies and the media, and local, regional, national and global perspectives on democracy. Saturday’s billing includes an international perspective casting light on the situation in Russia, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab world.

The reading promotion theme READ! READ! READ! – organised by Läsrörelsen (the Reading Movement) – is more topical than ever. Reading and language are considered the foundations of democratic society. The desire to read and tell stories is at the heart of this and accommodates all forms of reading: using eyes, ears and fingers. This theme brings together authors, researchers, experts and teachers. In-depth conversations will explore, among other things, poetry and the urge to read, picture books, classics – and a new think tank. The Reading Movement’s eight seminars are divided into four half-day blocks featuring different moderators. A further 24 programmed events are also included in the four blocks across Thursday 23 and Friday 24 September. Some of the participants are the illustrator and author Linda Bondestam and Gift Blessing, rapper and ‘literature junkie’. An additional 24 programmes are also included in four blocks on Thursday 23 and Friday 24 September. One programme will see the involvement of Viktor Elm, footballer from Kalmar FF and another Jean-Claude Mourlevat, the French children’s and YA author awarded the 2021 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, who will be appearing in conversation with the journalist Yukiko Duke to discuss the role of poetry. All is found on www.bokmassan.se/laslaslas-2021.

Nordic literature has long been a key feature of the Gothenburg Book Fair and this year it is one of our themes. Contemporary Nordic literature is home to a myriad of literary voices and treasures who have forged its position on the global literary scene. The geographic and cultural proximity that we have grown accustomed to has been turned upside down. We suddenly find ourselves further apart than ever before in the modern age. Can literature break down borders and reunite us once again? This theme celebrates current Nordic releases across more than 20 seminars. Norway’s Vigdis Hjorth, Iceland’s Sjón and Finland’s Sofi Oksanen are among just some of the leading and beloved authors who will be participating.

Schools and libraries at the Book Fair
As usual, Thursday and Friday will be industry days at the Book Fair – although the programmed events will also be highly topical to the wider public. The schools strand consists of conversations, lectures and discussions open to all who work in schools and education, and thanks to Book Fair Play the programme can reach out directly to educators and help to drive further education and skills development throughout the year.

New this year is the school leaders strand, a venture that aims to provide effective skills development to headteachers and others in school leadership roles. This initiative is offered in partnership with Liber, the Swedish Teachers’ Union Head Teacher Section, Natur & Kultur, Sanoma Utbildning and the Nordic School Leaders’ Congress. The programme takes its point of departure from the major challenges faced by schools during the pandemic.

A number of industry seminars will be on offer for librarians. During the pandemic, libraries in different parts of Swedish society have fought to deliver the various aspects of their operations that remained achievable in a range of ways, finding new solutions along the way to compensate for the aspects which were lost. This year’s library seminar programme will cover this and much more. Programmed events likely to be of interest to librarians are also to be found in the Children’s and YA strand. This will see some of Sweden’s foremost children’s and YA authors in conversation, focusing on issues such as which formats and books trigger the desire to read and learn in the next generation, and how we can equip the adults of tomorrow for the time to come.

Unique encounters between unique authors
The In Focus strand is divided into two parts: on Thursday and Friday the focus is on literature, the role of reading and its importance to humankind and society – historically, today and in future. Conversations will touch on, among other things, work to promote reading, digitalisation, and library issues, as well as exploring the connection between literature and social sustainability, language and identity. The more wide-reaching weekend programme will centre on the present as reflected in journalism, biographies, popular science and novels. This will for example bring together Suzanne Osten and Stina Wollter in the seminar “Freedom, resistance and the power of creativity”. In “The narrow female role” Liv Strömquist, Aase Berg and Marianne Lindberg De Geer reasons on what it is like to be a woman. Several programmes touches covid-19, amongst them one with Emma Frans, Amina Manzoor and Johan Anderberg: “Sweden’s corona strategy” – on how the pandemic has affected the Swedish people and the image of Sweden. And in the conversation ”Days in quarantine” Merete Mazzarella, Joakim Pirinen and Elin Lucassi discuss on how to depict a year we would rather forget.

The Food and lifestyle strand will afford viewers and visitors alike the opportunity to enjoy inspiring conversations and performances based on current publications in the areas of cookery, relationships, green transition, outdoor living, gardening and mental and physical well-being. In this strand, we look forward to welcoming participants such as Tina Nordström and Josse Haamer von Hofsten in their training kitchen, while Tareq Taylor will be teaching us to make one pot meals and Kristin Kaspersen and Ulrica Norberg will be sharing their thoughts and techniques around mental strength and inner peace.

The Crimetime festival will once again be bringing together the elite of the crime fiction world, featuring stars such as Camilla Läckberg, Mari Ljungstedt, Anna Jansson, Viveca Sten, Mats Strandberg, Anders De La Motte and Måns Nilsson. Additionally, a number of the world’s leading thriller writers will be participating in pre-recorded sessions: David Baldacci, John Grisham, Karin Slaughter, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben and Paula Hawkins. This year, the festival will be offering visitors two new features: Master Class – three conversations about the writing process aimed at anyone dreaming of seeing their own manuscript published, and Crimetime by night – an evening-based programme featuring some of Sweden’s greatest crime writers.

Stages at the Book Fair
This year’s hybrid fair will also feature 13 stages where visitors and viewers will be able to enjoy a range of programmed events and activities: the Library Stage, Bonnier Hoops, the Public Education Stage, the Researcher Square, the Global Square, the Gothenburg House of Literature Stage, the Ideell Kulturallians (Charitable Cultural Alliance) Stage, the Literature Stage, the Teacher Stage, the Poetry Room, the Translation Room, Behold Man (Se Människan) and the Freedom of Expression Square.

The 2021 edition of the Gothenburg Book Fair is taking place at the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre and via the Book Fair Play digital streaming service from 23 to 26 September. The programme will be available at bokmassan.se from 24 August.