Buenos Aires has been crowned World Book Capital for 2011 in recognition of the vibrant literary culture within the city, which plays host to 70 libraries , over 400 bookstores and scores of smaller book-dispensing kiosks.
The title was determined by a panel comprising representatives of the International Publishers Association (IPA), the International Booksellers Federation (IBF), The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and UNESCO. During the year, the scheme aims to promote reading, books and Argentina’s literary heritage with projects including the creation of a multi-lingual public library and efforts to record audiobooks for one hundred “universal classics”.
The title is merely the latest emblem of Buenos Aires’ strong literary heritage. Each year, the city hosts the Buenos Aires International Book Fair, one of the most significant cultural events in Latin American with more than 1,200,000 visitors each year. Over the last decade, a range of government-led literary campaigns including “No hay Ciudad sin poesía” (“There is no City without poetry”), “A mí, regalame un libro” (“Give me a book as a gift”), and “El día del lector, 24 Agosto” (“The day of the reader, 24 August”) have helped to foster and maintain a strong reading culture that has enabled a host of small- and medium-sized publishers to prosper and provide a range of adventurous, intellectual writing. The city has also played host to many acclaimed writers including Jorge Luis Borges (Labyrinths), Manuel Puig (Kiss of the Spider Woman) and Julio Cortázar (Blow-up and Other Stories) .
The title will rest with Buenos Aires until 22 April 2012, when it will be passed to Yerevan, Armenia. Previous World Book Capitals have included Amsterdam (2008), Beirut (2009) and Ljubljana (2010).