Every year for 21 consecutive years, Guadalajara has been the host of the largest Spanish language book fair in the world: FIL, the Guadalajara International Book Fair. For three full days librarians from all over the world select the newest and hottest materials in Spanish. Each year the fair celebrates a country, this year it celebrates Colombia, the land of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
An agreement between the American Library Association and FIL organizers makes possible for 150 librarians from the USA to attend the fair, stay at a hotel for 3 nights and receive certain amount of money towards airline tickets.
The fair is a who’s who of publishers of Spanish language materials, distributors and librarians serving Latinos and the Spanish-speaking. If you have any business with Spanish language world (even if you are a publisher from Japan), you want to be there. Publishers of materials in Spanish from around the globe host pavilions and booths to exhibit the newest, hottest, just out-of-the-press publications. Distributors of materials flood the halls of the fair looking for materials requested by librarians looking, for example, for the most recent publications from Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Uruguay or any other Latin American country.
For a number of years I attended the fair and I loved it. It is an exhausting exercise where for 3 days one selects books from 9:00 am to 5:00pm, but at the same time it is so exciting; there are a myriad of books, CDs, DVDs and databases to see! (Librarian alert!) Besides that, there are many colleagues with whom tour the fair, attend book signings, publisher’s receptions and exchange ideas.
FIL is hands-down the best event to purchase Spanish language books. The best way to order and receive books is to work with a distributor. They know which publishers and books have distributing rights in the States. Distributors can find the best deals and I know of one that can find *any* title published in any Latin American country. I know there are many good distributors because after I stopped attending Guadalajara I met many of them, but back then I personally worked with -in strict alphabetical order-Bilingual, Brodart (former Books on Wings), Lectorum, and Libros sin Fronteras (no longer exists). All of them are wonderful and work with a million publishing houses.
This year instead of attending the fair, I am attending an IFLA/FAIFE workshop in Connecticut and New York: two days in CT and one day in NY at Queens Library. Still, I am thinking of my colleagues getting ready to start work tomorrow, the first day of the shopping spree, Monday, November 26 when at 9:00 a.m. the doors of the fair will open to show a magical world of pavilions holding the most wonderful and newest books in Spanish.