There will be hundreds of booths and nearly 1,000 companies from the publishing industry participating, according to Khlot Vibolla, director of the National Library of Cambodia, who spoke at a press conference on November 28.

The Cambodia Book Fair has been held eight times successfully in the past with the full support of young people and the general public, according to Vibolla, who said the organisers of the 2022 expo are expecting approximately 100,000 attendees over the three days of this year’s fair.

“There are 197 booths for this year, which is an increase of more than 140 booths compared to 2019, due to an increase in sponsors within the publishing industry. As for the number of participants over three days, we expect to have at least 100,000, though 2019 had up to 180,000 participants,” Vibolla said.

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the book fair was suspended for two years in 2020-2021, but this year the committee decided to resume the event.

Kim Pich Pinon, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, who also attended press conference, outlined the programme and purpose of the 2022 Cambodia Book Fair.

“The purpose of creating the Cambodia Book Fair is to promote the publication of both old and new works, promote reading and writing, cultivate the habit of reading among our Cambodian people and teach them to understand the value of reading books that are rich in knowledge.

“We also want to improve the storytelling and drawings for children’s books to attract and encourage children to get into the habit of reading books from an early age. In addition, the exhibition aims to show support for the publishing industry, both in Cambodia and internationally, and to encourage poets, writers, researchers and artists to increase their creative efforts,” he said.

He said that the fair has many programmes facilitated by nearly 200 youth volunteers. The volunteer teams will be divided into groups for handling logistics, guiding guests, stage management, media assistants, photography and filming, public relations, graphic design and operational support.

The three-day fair includes book exhibition displays from the publishing industry and writers and special discounts on book prices, according to Pinon.

New to the fair for its 9th edition is an open forum on electronic publishing and presentations on adaptations of novels into films.

There will also be presentations of literary works that promote national cultural values, meetings and appearances by well-known authors and artists who will also sign books and autographs, a trivia competition and a musical concert.

“This year, we were really surprised because more than 1,000 publishing industry companies have contacted us about setting up booths. We have already asked the Phnom Penh City Hall for extra space outside for more booths because the National Library’s premises are small,” she said.

“Although there are many kinds of books in many booths, we have observed that the two kinds of books which were the

most popular for thousands of participants to buy previously were novels and self-help or personal development books,” said Hok Sothik, director of the literacy NGO Sipar.

The book fair is an annual event organised by the National Library’s Cambodia Book Fair Committee in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the Ministry of Information as well as the Cambodian Library Association, the Cambodia Book Publishers Association and many other partners.

The book fair has been held every year since 2011, barring recent pandemic cancellations. With a remarkable growth in exhibitors, the fair has expanded rapidly from its humble beginnings.

The last event was held in 2019 under the theme “Start Your Dreams with a Book in Your Hand”.

“Due to the awareness about the important of reading books and our organising the book fair with extensive cooperation, we have observed a momentum now towards increased attendance by students, national and international guests with numbers that have increased significantly,” said Kok Ros, director of the Department of Books and Reading at the culture ministry.

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