Turin Book Fair kicks off

First event since launch of Milan rival

(ANSA) - Turin, May 18 - The opening of the 30th Turin Book Fair on Thursday saw long queues at ticket offices and entry gates. This year marks the first time Italy's top book fair has taken place since the launch of a rival event in Milan - Tempo di Libri (Books Time).
    Officials have said the Turin event is "irreplaceable" despite the presence of its ambitious upstart rival.
    The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, Education Minister Valeria Fedeli and Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino, among other dignitaries.
    Deputy speaker of the Chamber of Representatives Luigi Di Maio was also present and noted in reference to "those who have tried to compete" that "the original is always better". Over 1,200 events and 80 festivals are involved in this year's fair but the large publishing groups Mondadori and Gems are not, with the exception of Il Punto Einaudi and Bollati Boringhieri. Feltrinelli, Sellerio, E/O, Fazi, La Nave di Teseo and Giunti are all present, however, and medium and small publishing houses have this year made a major showing and some authors and events will be seen even if their publishers will not have stands, such as Yasmina Reza with her new book 'Babilonia', published by Adelphi.
    Minister Franceschini commented on the comparison with the Milan fair, which was not as successful as had been hoped that "we need to wait until the end of the fair to compare the two and see whether some form of collaboration can be brought in.
    Whether we can move from non-competition to collaboration and integration." He added that "we help films and opera with public subsidies, why can't we help books?" Minister Fedeli meanwhile announced that "we have set aside 2.5 million euros more to fund the first 1,000 innovative school libraries in Italy and we will announced the winners in June." Senate Speaker Grasso praised the exhibiting publishers, saying that they are the "symbol of courageous entrepreneurship able to defend its cultural and economic independence while exploring innovative terrain". On Friday at 5:30 PM, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotto will be taking part in the fair with a debate on the book 'Un Mondo Degno dei Nostri Figli' ('A World Worthy of Our Children'), which brings together translations of some of former US president Barack Obama's best speeches. Moderating will be the journalist Paolo Valentino, who curated the introduction. On Saturday at 11 AM, Defense Chief of Staff Claudio Graziano will be speaking at the presentation of two books: 'Special Operations', an in-depth look at Italian special forces, and 'Nome in Codice Ares', which tells the story of Andrea Adorno, who was granted a gold medal of honor for military valor in Afghanistan.