One of the rare trade shows in the French capital to attract both the general public and professionals, the annual Salon du Livre/Paris Book Fair brings dozens of renowned authors and thousands of visitors under a single roof each year in early spring to celebrate literature and literary trends.
Fans of anything from bestsellers to genre fiction, graphic novels to poetry and literary fiction will all find something of interest at this enormous show. And if you have kids traveling with you, not to worry about keeping them interested and happy: every year there’s a section devoted especially to the best books for children, along with special events and storytelling sessions for budding readers. And while a good percentage of the literary fare is in French, there’s still plenty for English speakers and readers to enjoy.
The fair generally has a specific theme each year, focusing on the literature of a particular region or country and allowing visitors to get familiar with important literary movements and publishing trends. It’s not just a French-centric affair, either: in past years the show has spotlighted literature from Asia, South America, Canada and Russia, making it a truly global event.
Why to Go?
Whether you’re an unabashed book nerd or a casual before-bed consumer of novels, this fair is a great way to soak in some Parisian (and global) culture, far from the usual tourist track. It’s a great opportunity to discover a few up-and-coming authors, pick up gifts for bibliophile friends and family, see some interesting readings and talks and perhaps even get a beloved edition signed by a favorite author.
And if you’re a literary agent, author, translator or other professional working in the publishing industry, it of course goes without saying that this event is a big one on your annual calendar: the place and time to mingle with like-minded professionals and even make deals with authors or publishing houses.
Salon du Livre 2019: Program and Guest Authors
The 39th edition of the Paris Salon du Livre runs from March 15th-18th, 2019. This year, rather than focusing on a specific country as the fair has in past editions, the spotlight is on European literature and authors, “writ large”.
A special “European stage” will focus on the ideal of a unified continent, during a time when the project of the European Union is being challenged by nationalist and xenophobic political currents. Every day will feature a live interview and Q&A with a different major European author.
As always, this year’s show will focus on numerous additional genres and themes in addition to the headlining one. In 2019, visitors can browse stands and sections dedicated to general novels, mysteries/ crime fiction, essays, graphic novels/comics, and children’s/young adult literature. On the “main stage”, some 60 guest authors are expected to attend this year, giving readings and book signings. In addition, the program will include lectures on current and historic literature, debates, special literary quizzes and numerous other events.
For the full program, including a list of featured authors and book signings this year, see this page. More information will be posted here and at the official website when the full 2019 program is announced in the new year (most likely in late January).
Tips for Making the Most of the Fair
In a few words: avoid getting overwhelmed by pacing yourself. The Porte de Versailles Convention center is enormous; I can advise from firsthand experience that you’ll burn out if you try to see too much in too short a period. Peruse the program ahead of time and pick out a couple of sections, talks and authors that interest you the most, and try to focus on those.
I can almost guarantee you that you’ll find yourself feeling overwhelmed and even irritated if you try to gulp everything in at once. Schedule in a lunch or coffee break: after all, it’ll give you a breather to leaf through a new book or take a closer look at the program.
Finally, if you can manage to go on Friday or Monday rather than over the weekend, you’ll likely find the crowds to be thinner and the lines for book signings and other events a bit shorter.
Practical Details and Buying Tickets:
Dates: Friday, March 15h through Monday, March 18th, 2019
Location: Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, Pavillion 1, Boulevard Victor, 15th arrondissement
Metro/Tram: Porte de Versailles (line 12) or Balard (Line 8). You can also take tramway Line 2T or 3A, descending at the Porte de Versailles station.
How to buy tickets, and how much they cost: Ticket prices for adults in 2019 have yet to be announced and are not yet on sale; check back here or at the official website in late January for updates and to be book. Entrance is generally free for children under 18. There’s also a reduced-price entry fee for students under 26 with a valid student ID and .