I hope that you are doing well.
Nearly six weeks have passed since the effects of the coronavirus came into full force in Sweden. On 11 March, WHO decided to classify the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic. On 13 March, Sweden’s government decided to adopt a prohibition against public gatherings exceeding 500 persons and on 27 March the limit was adjusted to 50 persons.
Developments have been quick and changes rapid. Restrictions that affect our social lives have been introduced from one day to the next. The coronavirus has altered daily existence to a degree that few could have imagined. Everyday life has been turned upside down – both for private individuals as well as for companies and public institutions.
This is true even for us at the Book Fair. Over the past six weeks, we have continued preparing for the Book Fair 2020 at the end of September, while maintaining the greatest respect possible for the prevailing circumstances. Our approach has been to keep on looking forward, while monitoring developments day by day and being able to modify our plans if needed. We have developed different scenarios meaning that we will be able to adapt certain parts of the Fair in a prudent and responsible manner.
Naturally, we understand that you, our 800 exhibitors, are also affected in various ways. This also raises our concerns. The Book Fair is a meeting place for exhibitors and visitors. Without exhibitors, a vital publishing industry, authors and readers – no Book Fair.
We have received many wonderful calls from those of you who are concerned about the existence and future of the Book Fair, but we have also received your concerns and the questions you have had. The entire team at the Book Fair has attempted to be available for all of you and to answer the questions that we are able to answer. At times, we have not been able to answer your questions straight away. In such cases we have asked for time to find an appropriate answer. I would personally, yet on behalf of the entire Book Fair, like to thank you for the extensive understanding you have shown. Thank you for your patience.
Since no one knows how long this situation will continue, we have worked out alternatives to the normal Fair. This has entailed an encompassing and intense effort, which we have carried out as quickly as we can. We are now ready to present the main features of our Plan A and Plan B for the Book Fair this autumn.
Plan A is based on the situation improving enough by the end of September so that the Fair is arranged during the planned dates, even if certain adjustments are required. We know that many of you find yourselves in difficult circumstances. We also realise that the behavioural patterns of many people will likely remain altered even into the autumn, which may lead to fewer visitors to the Fair than in a normal year. Therefore, Plan A entails that all exhibitors receive a 50% discount on the stand surface in order to reduce your financial contribution. Additionally, there is the opportunity for exhibitors who have already made their booking to reduce their stand surface at the 2020 Book Fair. This can improve cost-effectiveness through, for example, reduced costs for staff and lodging. With a digital platform and collaboration with media houses sending select seminars, we can reach out to the people unable to attend the Book Fair as planned. Of course, we will also be monitoring activities on location, in accordance with the recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Sweden.
Plan B does not entail cancelling the event, but rather continuing to adapt it: We carry out parts of the Book Fair as planned, but cancel the actual exhibition during 2020. We are currently in dialogue with several partners about making the content directed at schools and libraries a conference 24–25 September with a focus on the themes Digital Culture, READ! READ! READ! and the seminars tied to Skolspåret. Furthermore, Plan B entails that from 26–27 September we arrange parts of the Book Fair’s seminar program in the form of a festival. In collaboration with several newspapers and television broadcasters, we are looking at how to reach out to a wide audience through live broadcasting and recording the program. In that way, these events can be carried out with and/or without an audience or visitors physically attending. Plan B also means that the content is made available at no cost for those who partake in the content digitally.
Both Plan A and Plan B also encompass technical solutions so that guests from faraway, or guests in risk groups, will not have to travel to the Book Fair, but will instead participate through online links.
Plan B entails that you as an exhibitor will receive your money back (minus expo-start fee of 5 000 SEK and 1 450 SEK for insurance) However, our hope is that you instead will rebook your stand for 2021 (and thus not receive the money back, but simply defer your participation). If you choose the second option, you will receive a 20% discount on invoice 2, which will be sent out to you at the beginning of 2021 (instead of June 2020).
We are testing these plans in dialogue with you and our other collaborating partners. We are mainly looking at how we would be able to develop Plan B in a powerful way. We understand that many of you wish to receive word immediately, but we politely ask for your patience as this will take some time. We are however working quickly! At the end of May at the latest, we will make a decision towards which of the plans to continue with.
Once again, we would like to thank you for your patience. We presently need a little bit more time to make a rational decision about how to design the 2020 Book Fair. We welcome your input. Please get in touch with your normal contact person or e-mail us at email@example.com.
In the meantime, please take care of yourselves and each other!
Frida Edman, Book Fair Director, Göteborg Book Fair