This wasn’t my first trade fair. But it was an interesting one. As much as I had wanted to go there, there was a lot of disillusion going through my head while being there. But hey, what am I saying? Of course it’s a business and the days of discussing things quietly in an armchair are definitely over.
So… How was Liber 2012 in Barcelona?

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Let’s see some pictures first.

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All in all, it was a good decision to muster the time and make the effort going there.
However, there are quite a few editors who make you wonder about a couple of things. If I have nto be brutally honest then I should say I could have gone after 3 hours. The atmosphere was non existent.

It felt like a supermarket. Too many fancy stands. No secluded areas to sit down and read or write.

I sat down somewhere (at a stand) and almost immediately I was being  asked who I was and what did I want… Ok. Message understood. Um… Just shuffle my papers and jot down a line or two… Well. The fair was exhausting. That much is true.

However, on the upside, I met by chance the colombian writer Roberto Gil de Mares. We had a wonderful chat and I will expand on him and his novel another time.

Basically, I was expecting an atmosphere very different from what I got. Very businesslike and not in the least representing an art which literature is.

Books no longer seem to be any different to a can of coke or to pair of jeans or the latest energy drink. It has become a product. The way you can buy them everywhere does little help here.

Nevertheless I can safely say that Barcelona is always worth a trip. And even when you come back disillusioned and think, ouch, that really hurt, you kind of know that accepting truths get you further than pretending that everything remains the same. Or pretending that books are exempt from being affected by the Euro and now worldwide crisis.

So? Any upbeat message at all?
I guess here I might quote a little saying

Better the devil you know

As much as it hurt to see that the golden years of publishing houses seem to be over, it was a good thing to see the movement on the market, to find out about the buzz.

There are interesting niche publishers but few of them are really interested in unknown authors. Most of those houses are struggling themselves. The most striking examples of heroic intention was Nadir editorial. This was something that really made me sad. Here was a man with good taste and a very unique affection for the small gems in literature. But inspite of his energy he could not achieve financial success. In the end, this spells let’s go back to being more comercial. Such and not otherwise is the message.

If you go to Liber to find out about the mechanisms of the trade, well that’s one thing you won’t feel deceived about, but the ones among you who harbour the hope of finding an editor… Um I don’t want to sound cruel or disheartening but I would say using the words of the immortal swan of Avon “love’s labor lost”.

Or even use a scene from Macbeth and the three witches:

When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning or in rain
When the hurly burly’s done
When the battle’s lost and won.
Where the place?
Upon the heath.
There to meet with Macbeth.
Paddock calls anon.
Fair is foul. And foul is fair.
Hover through the fog and filthy air.

I wish I could undo this knowledge. But I guess I can’t. So I have to go on like that and hope that one day I might meet a publisher who thinks in different matters and doesn’t look for another bestseller to hit the market.
There are days when I think “fuck it” I might as well pack it in. I am not one to make compromises when it comes to the contents I would like to write about. To anything I feel strongly about.

Artistic freedom?
Moral support?
Literary novelty?
You must be joking.

Literature has sold out. Books have become products. Why else do they sell them with a promo stand in gawdy colors? Depending on the sales units. Why do they promote themselves in a target group adapted manner? It is quite disheartening.

I want the time back when we ( a literary circle) would meet up in some seedy bars and discuss books nobody but just a few intellectuals had read and we would be sharing our interpretations with one another until dawn… That time is irrevocably gone. But the best was: Book shops back then were still bookshops and not merchandising hell like today. I cannot see Hannah Montana, Harry Potter or any such crap. Neither do I think that any bookshop should sell such crap like the 50 shades of grey. This is another means to decrease your iq. It is sad that nowadays nothing is sacred anymore. Books and their ubiquituousness are the new willing and inexperienced prostitutes of new dawning century of pseudo intellectualism. It is here and it has come to stay. The profundity, serenity of love for details of knowledge and of university or even secondary school studies are swept away. Every country gets the education it deserves.

Everything needs to generate profits. Capitalism for dummies.

Now… I admit it. With the last sentences I know I am kind of overreaching. But I’ll be damned if it isn’t true.

In one way it was good that I went there. In another way, I seriously wish to be able to erase some of the  sentences I overheard being said.

Fair is foul.
Foul is fair.
Hover through the fog
And filthy air.

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