I am in Paris and yesterday I visited Paris Cookbook Fair which is the prestigious annual international cookbook and wine book trade meeting, to which I was invited. This year, it took place in the heart of Paris, right under the Pyramid of the Louvre Museum, in the spacious Carrousel du Louvre, famous for the Paris fashion shows. The weather was not appealing - a mixture of snow, rain and wind.
This is an event for professionals, editors, publishing companies rather than for amateurs. Of course everybody may enter if they pay. The tickets, in my opinion, were far too expensive for the general public – 35 Euros for one day or 65 Euros for 3 days. Additionally, the event is not aimed at selling cookbooks or to promote them to the public. That explains why the event was not very crowded.
The official website presents the event as follows: “the event focuses on the sales of translations and foreign rights, with Asia the leading buyer today, and Europe the major seller”. I am not surprised at all. Asians indeed buy everything, including vineyards in France, chateaux in the Bordeaux region and whole inventories of the best French wines. Did you know that cookbooks and wine books are probably the healthiest segment of publishing today, with a two digit growth in Asia and Latin America? “Dozens of countries are now buying, and make significant contributions to the profitsof the sector”. Non European accents were strong in the crowd (35% guests to the event come from outside Europe).
The Paris Cookbook Fair lasted for 3 days (this year between 22-24 February). The supporting events included panel discussions, presentations, interviews with publishers and national TV stars (cooks, food stylists, writers and food photographers), live cooking shows with professionals and cooks from Le Cordon Bleu.
On Saturday, the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards (which took place yesterday in the 1,400 seats theater of the Carrousel du Louvre) for the best cook books, wine books and publishers have been awarded in quite a lot of categories. This year 171 countries were participating (after 162 in 2011). The full list of the finalists and winners is published in a large booklet which is available on line here, at the official website of the Paris Cookbook Fair.
At the Paris Cookbook Fair, hundreds (if not thousands) of cookbooks from all over the World in every possible language, edited by both renowned publishers but also by small ones, are presented but you can also meet the authors and publishers and you can have a chat with them. In general, they were very helpful, open and talkative. However it was very difficult to buy any books there. On most of the stands, in particular those with books from abroad, it was impossible to buy anything (either because they did not have card terminals, or they did not have enough copies for sale). But that was not the goal of the event.
So, despite I did not buy any book, I was happy because I could have some chats with interesting and open people, like for example the co-authors of the Swedish culinary anti-cancer cookbook, which sells in Sweden like hot cakes. The book includes gourmet anti-cancer recipes (written in co-operation with doctors). Swedish were well organized - not only they were open to questions, but also they offered a wide range of Swedish specialties and beverages (including specific, bitter – sour lingonberry drink).
My eyes were also caught by a beautifully edited cookbooks about….Greenland cuisine. The luxurious and elegant stand of the Modernist Cuisine was impressive (like the brochure that they edited for the Paris Cookbook Fair), but I was more impressed to have a chat with guys who support (namely, by publishing cook books about Cambodian cuisine), and raise money to help homeless kids on the streets of Phnom Penh or with two guys from Argentina, wine importers, who came not only to promote their wines, about also to promote the cookbook about….Patagonian cuisine. Azerbaijanis not only proposed their cookbooks, but also prepared a food show and savory and sweet snacks.
Polish accents were visible, but not as strong as they should be. There was a stand of the Palace Wilanow Museum, presenting a series of cookbooks about Old Polish cuisine – Monumenta PoloniaeCulinaria. I met professor Jarosław Dumanowski and Elżbieta Grygiel from the Wilanów Palace Museum. We had a long chat about the Old Polish Cuisine and its possible promotion abroad. I’ve got a few heavy gifts (they were cookbooks, as you can guess). I met Grzegorz Trubilowicz from Cooklet - who is the co-founder of Cooklet - Inspiring Culinary Organizer. One should watch Cooklet – they already attacked the U.S. market and are finalists of some important competitions in media applications.
I was searching for the cookbook recently published by BOSZ, “The Fine Polish Cuisine”, the book about Polish cuisine published under the patronage of the wife of the President of Poland (the book was also the finalist of the Gourmet Awards). To no avail. I did not find the book, and I did not check it out, despite my thorough attempts. No other Polish culinary accents were present there, which is a big pity.