Thirty Irish Book Fairs have been cancelled this year because of Covid-19 and the public health regulations surrounding it, according to the organisers of Ireland’s first Virtual Book Fair. The annual Wexford Book Fair will become the first ever virtual fair later this month in an attempt to save this niche industry.
“Book Fairs in Ireland are very different to bookshops or indeed Amazon,” Kieran O' Brien, one of the organisers said. “These fairs see independent book dealers, many of whom do not deal online or in shops, come together with a vast array of rare and sought-after books and collectables. These Fairs are one of the last places people can come to see genuine Irish antiquarian books and lost classics, and be able to afford to take them home.”
“The Wexford Book Fair has run annually for decades, always coinciding with the last Sunday of the Wexford Opera Festival. It’s a social event in many bibliophile’s calendars and was greatly missed this year when we were forced to cancel due to Covid restrictions.”
Another organiser, Wally O' Neill from Red Books in Wexford town, said that keeping these independent fairs alive was essential to the national book culture. “We knew we couldn’t let the Book Fairs die out so we decided to take this years event online. It’s not ideal but it allows many of these long-time book dealers to still showcase their highly unusual stock and it gives customers looking for antiquarian books a place to find them.”
“The Book fair is not all about rare and exquisite volumes though. There will be books for everyone, from all price ranges. We also hope the open nature of this years fair may bring new people in who are yet to experience the charm of an Irish Book Fair.”
The Wexford Book Fair will be held online on the 28th and 29th of November. You’ll be able to find it that weekend at www.theirishbookshop.com.