The Paris Book Fair

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By Maree Cowan – Author of Magic Mushrooms

As a writer in Australia I have heard whispers all around me that the book is dying, that people don’t read books anymore.

The Paris Book Fair changed all that. The shear numbers that attended overwhelmed me. By the end of the show the total number of visitors was 180 000. I stood with my French husband in a huge and quickly moving cue of clearly excited people. Once inside, the show took up the size of a stadium such as the MCG. There were bookstands full of books for as far as the eye could see. We didn’t stand a chance of seeing the whole show of 2000 booksellers or all of the fifty countries that were represented.

We were swept along with the buzz of the crowd, and like children in a lollies shop, we floated from one bookstand to another. The stands ranged from a one-person authors to major international publishers. I wanted to shout out and cry “books are still alive.’ The publishers and authors enthusiastically engaged with us as we exchanged our stories. They were all friendly and interesting and a sense of humanity was alive in everyone. Was it because they were storytellers and passionate about their craft or was because they were predominantly French?

I was amazed by the French Graphic Artist, from the old school, Jean Yves Mitton and when I purchased his book he did and illustration on the inside page at lightning speed.

Young people with cameras flashing were swarming thickly around the stands of the best sellers who were closely accompanied by bodyguards. Every French radio program was there interviewing authors and graphic novelist. As the day progressed I stumbled across a number of publishers that were interested in my novel, Magic Mushrooms, to which I assured them I would send my manuscript.

My faith in selling my novel skyrocketed just when it as about to be swallowed up and buried. The Paris Book Fair was a gift that claimed and rightly so that the book is a tangible object that people love to read and it’s here to stay.



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