Publishers divided on merits of fair’s location
Tuba Parlak ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELThe TÜYAP Book Fair kicked off its 30th edition Nov. 12, but publishers and organizers remain at odds about the functionality of the fair’s venue in Istanbul’s Büyükçekmece district, which has hosted the event since 2002.
Many publishers at the fair said the event’s former location, in Beyoğlu’s Tepebaşı neighborhood, was a better place in terms of ease of access.
Kaan Özkan from the Notos Publishing House said transportation to the fair venue had become a huge issue as municipal buses and the service shuttles run by the fair organization were not working properly.
“What is more, this year there are no more shuttles from Taksim. And when there were, people had to be crammed in anyway,” Özkan said.
TÜYAP representative Cemran Önder said this year the traffic flow was particularly bad due to Metrobus lane construction in the venue’s immediate surroundings.
“It takes up to two hours to get to Taksim from the fair venue due to the construction. We did not want to add to the already jammed traffic flow and cancelled the shuttles from Taksim. But there are still shuttles operating between the venue and the last stop of the Metrobus, as well as shuttles between the venue and the seabus port in Bakırköy.”
Erol Aydın of the Siren Publishing House said visitors were complaining about the lack of Taksim shuttles and added that some had almost been hit by a car while transferring from the Metrobus to the shuttle.
“The positioning of the shuttle stop seems to be inappropriate,” he said. Kıvanç Koçak from İletişim Publishing House said it appeared that fewer visitors had come because of the venue’s relative inaccessibility.
“The interest in the fair has visibly dropped since we moved to this new venue in 2002,” he said.
Genuine bibliophiles or involuntary student visitors?
But Doğan Hızlan, publishing advisor of daily Hürriyet and a prominent name in Turkish art journalism, told the Daily News that the present venue had prevented the appearance of idle onlookers due to its distant location.
“When the fair was in Tepebaşı, anyone would just step in to take a tour around and go out. But now, if someone is taking the pains to travel that long a distance, they must be genuinely willing to buy books,” Hızlan said.
He said the new venue was a more engaging arena with restaurants and panel halls as well as side shows, such as the 21st International Istanbul Art Fair, the contemporary art show organized within the scope of the TÜYAP Book Fair.
Özkan said idle onlookers were also welcome for them. “Those who are not really into buying books or knowing about new publications could find a source of motivation after a random visit to the fair. Perhaps the visit might encourage them [to start loving books].”
Koçak, meanwhile, said it was not true that the fair was only being attended by people intent on buying large quantities of books.
“Not everyone entering the building leaves with handfuls of bags. A great majority of the visitors are children brought here by their teachers. They come and ask whether we sell anything for five Turkish Liras. This is not the path to great sales,” he said.
Önder also said the fair was largely visited by children. “An average of 80,000 children visited last year’s fair, which is partly due to the new venue’s spaciousness.”
The Turkish Education Ministry is urging primary, secondary and high schools to include fair visits in their annual curriculum.
Önder said this was also the reason why there was a big demand from younger visitors.