Text Florence - A great start
We usually write about events we go to just to announce them. For Text Florence we make a well-deserved exception to explain, in retrospect, the meaning of the first edition of this three days dedicated to the books that has left its mark on us. For us it was a different event than usual, but one of the most Frab's events ever.
Testo Firenze is a Frab's event above all because it is aesthetically beautiful: while on the Thursday evening before the opening we were setting up our position, we saw a distinguished gentleman wandering around the wide spaces of the Stazione Leopolda in Florence by bicycle. He watched a lot, talked to a lot of people and kept riding his bicycle, which is quite bizarre to see at a book fair. We discover the next day, looking for a small hook, who was the architect who with great attention built linear spaces, elegant displays and perfect lights capable of highlighting the main protagonist of the event: paper. For us it was a wonderful stimulus, because sometimes to free yourself from an aura that wants sad and poor publishing, you have to be the first to create beauty, even aesthetic.
Having made the necessary aesthetic premises, let's now move on to the substance.
Testo Firenze is an event that left room for paper to compete on equal terms. Of course, we and a few other independent and experimental publishers were outsiders to the mountains of wonderful books to be found. But each publishing house was assigned an identical, perfectly linear and equal space. Space, at times, is synonymous with power, and letting this not affect the ability of the various books to confront each other was a very significant and appreciated message.
The equal weapons were perhaps the trigger for another welcome message received by many readers and that we ourselves have perceived: to Text are all the same. Very large publishers, companies that literally "are" the system and small publishers who create wonders and experiment every day with much smaller numbers. This sense of equality has been impressive and opens the way to completely innovative paths in the publishing world, without prejudice, which we can't wait to help build.
In addition to the soccer tournament for publishers (a really nice way to team up in an often fragmented and parochial sector) and the related playful events, the mix of events dedicated to publishing was very well structured. Few creations about this world, but rather a lucid series of analytical meetings on the publishing ecosystem which, with pleasant alternation, have mixed interesting discussions on the editorial means of diffusion and the systems of publication and sale with meetings with authors and publishing houses who think about the books, they build and produce.
A selection that gathered everyone's tastes, from avid bibliophiles who were able to meet some prominent authors, to editors interested in learning about what is happening in the system today. Among the many prominent faces present at the three Florentine days we mention the Israeli writer Eshkol Nevo, the New Yorker originally from Addis Ababa Maaza Mengiste, recent winner of the Gregor von Rezzori Prize, the Dutch writer Jan Bokken, Katherine Angel, Marino Sinibaldi, Nadia Terranova, Chiara Valerio.
There are so many events that the need to be very strict about their duration has perhaps left many a desire for discussion that cannot be exhausted during the days of the fair.
"Ecology of the publishing world" was, in our view, one of the central events for publishers. Confronting them were Jurgen Boos, Marino Sinibaldi, Chiara Valerio and Andrea Gessner. What emerged from this chat, for which triple the 45 minutes available would not have been enough, all the facets of a world, especially the book, which is gloating after years of unexpectedly high numbers despite the pandemic and which now must find his way. The mention of the "Italian system" in which few publishers control everything was present but very weak, but the question arose as to what is the role of institutions in helping publishing and what regulatory interventions, after the eighteen-year bonus and the regulation of discounts, are necessary to give the market the right balance. A curious speech by Jurgen Boos, president of the Frankfurt Book Fair, who wonders why there are so many publishing fairs in Italy compared to the rest of Europe. The question suggests a need for rationalization, but also for the search for quality that increasingly takes shape even in our tiny experience: do events without depth make sense? Sometimes not.
"New cultural magazines" was instead the event that we felt closest to us. The creators of the most important new magazines on the Italian scene were confronted, including Christian Rocca and Marino Sinibaldi who, with courage, gave life to magazines where long form, quality and the ability to select themes and articles become central , against the chaos of information found on the web. Here, too, unfortunately, the 45 minutes of time available for discussion left too many questions unanswered, but the mere fact that a debate was opened around periodical publishing was undoubtedly encouraging.
The last thing that did not go unnoticed during these three days is "The Daily di Testo Firenze" and all the little details that make the difference in a fair.. Because during these events it is the details that give the publishers and therefore the readers serenity. Every morning at the opening of the stands we received the free press "Il Daily di Testo", an A3 page that told what happened the previous day and gave voice to interviews with individual publishers and the most irreverent facts of the fair. Long beards, ribbed pants and a frenzy of "moving things" have brought us fortifying smiles. The Daily was created during a publishing and risoprint workshop curated by Bruno, an excellent idea to transform what could have remained a workshop for its own sake into a beautiful moment linked to the fair.
The organization then did not miss details that certainly do not interest the most avid readers, but a lot of the publishers. Convenient parking, padlocks for the cashier (also provided by the organization), working wifi, a bar / restaurant with good food at affordable prices, comfortable and well-thought-out tables, cleaning of bathrooms and dining rooms. A fair can be fantastic even without these small details, but if there are, they can be noticed and make a difference.
The last aspect, noteworthy, to attend the event was a truly varied audience, a transversal target that touched all ages and interests, from university students and fashion academies to retirees, passing through professionals in the sector, inveterate readers. and just curious.
We just have to congratulate Todo Modo for the great idea and to Pitti who supported this majestic cultural initiative with foresight, a success with the public, aware and passionate, which deserves to be repeated.