Literature The Helsinki Book Fair will be held online this year, and according to program director Ronja Salmi, there is also a lot of good in it

Ronja Salmi will continue as the program director of the Book Fair for another year.

Ronja Salmi seems to be a person who is not instantaneous by small – or even slightly larger – adversities. What if the pandemic prevents the Helsinki Book Fair from being held at the Exhibition Center. This year is done a little differently than before.

Well, that’s how lightly program director Salmi did not take the Book Fair online. He says the trade fair committee has gone through all the possible options so that the most important book event of the year can be organized in the traditional way. But now that the decision has been made, he sees a lot of good in the exceptional year.

“I’m really hopeful. The online fair enables the public to follow the discussions all over Finland. I believe that we will also reach people who would not otherwise come to the fair, because the fair hall is too noisy and distressing for them, ”says Salmi.

“In addition, the program has big international names that are difficult to get to remote Finland, but which we are now interviewing in a live stream.”

Such world stars include the Swede Lars Kepler, Norwegian Jo Nesbø and American Elizabeth Stroutby discussion Sofi Oksasen with Salmi in particular waiting.

Online The fair is, of course, very different from the Helsinki Fair Center.

Fifteen venues are normally in use, now the program will be broadcast from three stages built at the Exhibition Center. If in a regular year there have been a thousand performers, this fall there will be less than half of it. Most of the conversations are broadcast live, some are pre-recorded due to time differences, for example.

“We do multi-camera production for four days. It is already reminiscent of big TV production. Still, it’s pretty clear that a lot of interesting things are left out. Writers have had to be pruned, which is a big disappointment for everyone, ”says Salmi.

He believes that the atmosphere in the trade fair studio will be strange at first, with all the usual hustle and bustle around.

“But at least now I have time to be present and meet all the actors, unlike in the Exhibition Hall, where in the first year I ran like an aro bunny from stage to stage and didn’t really have time to listen to the performances.”

New is also the fact that a full-time ticket purchaser can watch interviews online for two weeks. Salmi hopes that it will raise topics even after the fair weekend.

“Sometimes on the stage of the Book Fair, pretty blatant and interesting things are said, but it is only heard by those present. Now everyone can look at the tape afterwards, what was actually said there. ”

Salmi wants to build an online event based on the topics of conversation.

Since the fair visitor does not sway online in the same way as in the corridors of the Exhibition Center, his attention must be attracted with attractive performers and interesting headlines.

“We compete for screen time with all other online offerings,” says Salmi.

Twenty the theme of the book fair once a year is the future, which in the book industry looks relatively bright. After all, it survived the pandemic better than many others. Audiobooks in particular have grown in popularity.

The fair will discuss, among other things, how audio books shape the way we write, publish and consume literature. Saturday audiobook readers Jukka Pitkänen, Krista Putkonen-Örn and Pirjo Heikkilä tell what the work required and how to prepare for reading.

According to Salmi, the literature can also bring up topics that have been overshadowed by corona news in public. The discussion he curates considers, for example, whether the Meto and Black lives matter movements affect the structures and stories of Finnish literature.

Program Director believes that in the future the fair will be a hybrid of the new and the old. For many, the physical event that has become an institution at the Exhibition Center will be preserved, but in addition, things made possible by technology will be introduced more boldly.

“This year we will learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t. The online implementation will be part of us next year as well. ”

Sure: The Strait’s three-year wash was supposed to end after this fair, but an extension of the year was agreed in the spring.

“I’m really happy to continue because there’s a lot left to do this year because of the pandemic. I want to show what I still had on my sleeve. ”


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