Publishers relish rising sales at virtual book fairs
Deniz Gürgen / ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Eager customers crowd around a table waiting to get their books signed at TÜYAP’s traditional book fair held between Nov 12 and 20 this year in Istanbul. The fair hosted 415,000 visitors in its 30th year up from 410,000 in 2010. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIKVirtual book fairs are the wave of the future in Turkey, or so one would think judging by the success of this year’s İdefix virtual book fair that took place between Nov. 21 and Dec. 21.
İdefix, a prominent online shopping portal for books, movies and music, saw an impressive 59 percent increase at its virtual book fair this year over last year, according to Director Bora Ekmekçi.
Meanwhile, Istanbul’s traditional book fair organized by TÜYAP between Nov. 12 and 20 still did quite well at its 30th anniversary. The fair appealed to its traditional customer base but did not seem to capture the same sort of momentum as the İdefix virtual fair.
While TÜYAP would not disclose specific sales or revenue figures, Cemran Öder, TÜYAP’s culture fairs corporate communication manager, said in a written response to the Hürriyet Daily News the book fair witnessed a 7 percent increase in attending publishing houses.
There were 610 publishing houses represented, 40 more than in 2010. Some 415,000 visitors attended the fair this year up from 410,000 last year.
Publishers like online fair
İdefix, however, hosted 1,106 publishing houses and 90,000 different books at its virtual fair, according to Ekmekçi.
“We can almost say that all of the publishing houses were represented at our ninth İdefix book fair. Last year there were 2 million visitors and this year we had 3 million visitors,” said Ekmekçi in a written response to the Daily News.
Turkey’s major publishing houses were also pleased with the results of the virtual book fair.
“We had good results for both the TÜYAP and İdefix book fairs, but while sales remained the same at TÜYAP, there was an increase this year at İdefix,” said Ali Ögeyik, vice president of marketing and sales for Can Yayınları, in a phone interview with the Daily News.
Cem Yayınevi Sales Director Bülent Eryılmaz expressed similar sentiments. “Sales at the TÜYAP book fair were lower this year but better for İdefix,” he said in a phone interview, also saying that poor weather and the distant location of the TÜYAP venue to central Istanbul could have been contributing factors.
Yapi Kredi Yayıncılık’s Marketing Director Özgür Akın, however, said she was not convinced the two fairs were comparable. “While we were very happy with the results of both book fairs, I can’t really compare the two fairs. They don’t attract the same clientele.”
She believed customers enjoyed the physical interaction at TÜYAP’s fair. There was a lot of interest for the TÜYAP fair, she said, and there was more than a 10 percent increase in Yapı Kredi Yayıncılık’s sales based on the number of books at the TÜYAP fair.
This year’s speakers at the TÜYAP book fair included famous Turkish authors like Zülfü Livaneli, Elif Şafak and Murathan Mungan, not to mention 30 foreign authors. There were 200 events in nine days including hundreds of book signings.
So, what does a virtual book fair offer that the more traditional book fairs do not? Ekmekçi said there
were several advantages.
“For one thing, you can browse books from where you are without having to hassle with traffic, parking or having to carry the books you buy. Plus, you can get books at a discount compared to normal book fairs,” said Ekmekçi, who also said a customer could not find such a large array of books or publishers anywhere else in Turkey.