Earlier this year, Europa Editions and Other Press partnered on a program to send booksellers to the Turin Book Fair in Italy. The effort, called Bookselling Without Borders, has added supporters and expanded. It also has a Kickstarter campaign which will come to a close in four days.
Underwritten by additional presses–Graywolf Press, The New Press, and Catapult are now co-sponsors–Bookselling Without Borders is aiming to send four or five booksellers to three book fairs in 2018 (adding Frankfurt and Guadalajara to its destinations). Its Kickstarter campaign to finance the traveling had, at press time, reached just over $14,000 of its $30,000 goal.
“We feel that to change the conversation around international literature, there needs to be a critical mass of people talking about international literature,” said Europa’s editor-in-chief, Michael Reynolds. “There are no better people to do this than booksellers.”
Reynolds elaborated that, because small presses like his don’t have “huge marketing budgets to promote their books,” it was essential to find other key tastemakers in the industry to champion these kinds of titles. “Passionate booksellers are our principle discovery mechanism,” he explained. “We think it is really important that, if we can create the opportunity for booksellers to make a connection abroad and exchange ideas, it is likely to make a sudden and immediate difference to how someone sells international literature.”
It was Reynolds, who spearheaded the scholarship program after his press sponsored a bookseller to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2016. Since then, he has fielded interest from publishers and booksellers in Australia and Germany who want to start a similar project. In addition, several book fairs, including ones in Istanbul and Cape Town, have contacted him to say they too want to host a delegation of booksellers.
Should the Kickstarter campaign fail to reach its funding goal, Reynolds said the program will still proceed, albeit with fewer booksellers. “We think this is important enough that we will try again later, perhaps with a more modest funding goal.”