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While over 100,000 visitors are expected to visit Bookfest, Romania’s largest book fair, the prospects for book-reading in general in Romania are far from bright.
During the Bookfest, which lasts between May 30-June 3, booklovers can enjoy works from over 200 Romanian and foreign publishers, presented in a larger exhibition space than in previous years.
Visitors can also meet writers, artistic and cultural figure and participate in debates and roundtables, exhibitions, and autograph sessions. Furthermore, they can browse books, magazines and other publications of exhibitors from Romania and abroad.
France is the country honoured at this year's fair. Some famed French writers, Dominique Fernandez and Michel Houellebecq among them, but also cultural journalist Bernard Pivot, are the main guests.
While thousands queue to enter Bucharest’s book fair each year, industry specialists are pessimistic about the future of reading in Romania as a whole.
In recent years, the number of people enjoying literature has constantly fallen.
The average number of books bought per inhabitant in Romania is just one a year, while in countries like Poland and Hungary the average is 8 to 10.
On the other hand, the total value of all books sold in Romania was down 15 per cent last year, to 60 million euro, according to the estimations of a local bookstore chain. The figure does not include books sold second hand in kiosks, which would take the number up to 112 million euro.
The average price of a book in Romania is of 19 lei, or around 4.4 euro.
A recent study carried out by the research centre CURS showed that as many as 52 per cent of Romanians do not read books at all. Another 28 per cent read only "from time to time" while only 5 per cent read "for at least an hour a day".
During the Communist era, Romania invested heavily in literacy campaigns and books were available in large numbers at cheap prices. Over the past 20 years, however, the situation changed radically, with television and Internet superseding reading as most people's daily habit.
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