Gothenburg Book Fair 2018:

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Gothenburg Book Fair 2018:
Against Intolerance & Racism, Media Issues, and Image & Illustration

Oskar Ekström: New Program Director

The 2018 Book Fair will tackle the pressing issues of the time as Sweden goes for general elections this year (Sunday, 9 September). The organizers have identified 3 issues to focus upon: mobilisation against racism and intolerance, focus on media issues and on image &illustration.

The annual book fair in Gothenburg is the defining cultural event focusing also on socio-political issues that reverberate in the society.

Bokmässan has appointed Oskar Ekström as the new program director and he will take charge in mid-April. He is currently an executive producer for talks, debates and films at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern in Stockholm. Earlier he had worked as the project manager for international projects focusing on ‘literature and human rights, including temptations for persecuted authors, and has long experience of cooperation in the book industry’. “The seminar program has been the backbone of the Book Fair since its inception, so it’s with pride and humility as I go into this role. Being able to develop the program is a very exciting challenge,” he said.

Frida Edman, Senior Vice President, said, “There has been a lot of interest in the service as Program Manager for the Book Fair. Oskar Ekström is distinguished by his experience of program development and his broad network in the industry. He will, as program manager, together with our team and partners, contribute to the strong development of the Book Fair.”

This year’s book fair will focus on 3 subjects: Mobilisation against racism and intolerance, Focus on media issues and Image and illustration.

Mobilisation against racism and intolerance

Sweden has established itself as a tolerant democratic country. It has earned the goodwill of the world by taking largest number of refugees after Germany especially from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. But a section of the society is against allowing immigrants (asylum seekers) into the country. The organizers of the book fair are aware of this. Last year there ‘250 program items concerning racism, intolerance and the challenges facing democracy’. The 2018 Book Fair said that it “will continue with the tradition of asserting our shared responsibility to counteract increasing racism and intolerance in society”. The Living History Forum is a partner of Gothenburg Book Fair this year on this aspect.

Ingrid Lomfors of the Living History Forum said, “We are very pleased with our collaboration with the Book Fair. It gives us the opportunity to establish dialogues and discussions about issues such as racism and intolerance. Racism is a societal problem which we all have to relate to and we see it as our roll to provide knowledge that enables us to better-understand and draw lessons from history in order to counteract racism in all of its manifestations”.

Focus on Media Issues

Fake news on social media is the primary concern of the democratic societies such as on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook the world’s largest platform for online users has grown beyond the expectation of one of its founder Mark Zuckerberg. According to Statista, “As of the third quarter of 2017, Facebook had 2.07 billion monthly active users. In the third quarter of 2012, the number of active Facebook users had surpassed 1 billion, making it the first social network ever to do so.”

In the 20th century, the print and broadcast media functioned in democratic countries by following norms, codes and rules. In 21st century there is no second-on-second regulator on social media and everyone has the opportunity to publish and broadcast anything one wants. This is also posing unforeseen challenge to the societies: spread of fake news, character assassination, malignities and malevolence, and Facebook itself promoting someone or something for a financial gain.

The 2018 Book Fair will foucs on media issues facilitated by Göteborg Media Days (Meg) and cooperated by the Swedish Association of Investigative Journalism (FGJ).

Terje Carlsson the chairman of the Swedish Association of Investigative Journalism said: “We are pleased to be able to provide an arena for the world’s most prominent journalists on our stage at next year’s Meg/Book Fair. We will also highlight proficient Swedish investigators and present examples of serious, investigative journalism. Our stage will offer many good examples and remind visitors of the importance of independent investigations of societal power”.

Image and illustration

In the digital age, image and illustration are increasingly becoming a form of formats to convey a message or information in addition to text, photo, video, podcast and infographics.

Joanna Wahlsten the press officer noted in a press note, “At the 2018 Book Fair, image and illustration will also receive a prominent place. How are images and illustrations used today and how are we influenced by them? How do we narrate through images? The cooperating partners for this theme are Läsrörelsen (‘The Reading Movement’), with their new project on picture narration (Bildberättande), and The Swedish Media Council.”

The annual Göteborg Book Fair will take place in 2018 from September 27–30. The book fair is the largest cultural event among the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark).

At the 2017 Book Fair nearly 80,000 people visited the fair in four days. It has been an unusual year for the Göteborg Book Fair. During its four days the Book Fair had nearly 80,000 visitors. The themes were on the subject of Bildung (500 years of Reformation, Swedish Church), celebration of Finland’s 100 years, and Voices from Ireland.

The fair is not only about books but also a meeting point for writers and readers, tribute to freedom of speech and a platform for arts and culture. It started in 1985 as a conference for librarians.