The Malta Book Festival 2020 – virtual edition has come to an end, and the National Book Council is very proud of the positive feedback and response to the very first online book festival on the Maltese islands. Setting out with the aim of providing our audience with a holistic experience made of books, literature and reading, the Festival brought together the community of writers, publishers and readers in Malta, who engaged with audiences old and new.
The programme contained more than sixty events spread over five days, including book launches and presentations, meetings with authors, working groups and discussions, as well as a range of activities curated especially for children, all of which streamed online via the National Book Council website, Facebook page and Youtube channel. The events were all filmed at the Sacra Infermeria, Mediterranean Conference Centre, and this year they will remain accessible for weeks to come, so if you missed any of the Festival events, you will be able to catch up in your own time.
Together with publishers and other stakeholders, the National Book Council took the online Festival as an opportunity to come up with innovative ways of promoting reading and sustaining book sales. Books can still be purchased on the new and improved online shops of each of the virtual exhibitors in this year’s Festival (where available): AVC (Merlin Library), BDL Books, Central Bank of Malta, Faraxa Publishing, Għaqda tal-Malti – Università, Heritage Malta Publishing, Horizons, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Kite Group, Klabb Kotba Maltin / Midsea Books, Mellieħa Local Council, Merlin Publishers, Miller Distributors Ltd. (Agenda Bookshop), Miranda Publishers, Octavo, SKS, EDE Books.
The Malta Book Festival 2020 has also reached school classrooms in Malta and Gozo weekday mornings, with two Maltese productions based on the 2020 Terramaxka Prize winning books: Sandra Hili Vassallo’s Mikelin and Leanne Ellul’s L-Istorja ta’ Seb it-Tieni (u ta’ Seb l-Ewwel ukoll), as well as the English language show ‘Secrets of Super Memory’ by Eran Katz. Children also enjoyed a special programme of online cultural and fun activities throughout the week, all of which streamed online and elicited heartening feedback from schools, teachers and parents.
The National Book Council would like to thank all of the many panelists, interviewers and interviewees in our events, including lifetime Achievement Award winner Dr Alfred Sant, as well as this year’s international guests Sir Salman Rushdie and Eran Katz. The conversation between Salman Rushdie and Alfred Sant, moderated by Prof Clare Vassallo, and the Q&A with Salman Rushdie moderated by Prof James Corby were viewed more than twenty thousand times by the end of the Festival.
Our gratitude also goes to the Festival’s stakeholders without whom this Festival wouldn’t have been possible, for trusting that, while the virtual experience would never truly substitute the real, we all needed to join forces and make an effort for the book industry in Malta to adjust to the new reality since the start of the pandemic.
Special thanks go to the professional work of the tireless technical team, whose work made sure that the Malta Book Festival 2020 puzzle could come together: videographers and editors at Blend and Malta Stream; technical director Andrew Zammit; the IT team at Webee; LovinMalta for their marketing and technical support; actors Antonella Axisa and Mikhail Basmadjian; presenters Daniel Chircop and Chrysander Agius, and Coryse Borg; graphic designer Steven Scicluna; film animator Matt Stroud; illustrators Moira Scicluna Zahra and Mark Scicluna.
Putting up the Festival in these new circumstances has meant overcoming a steep learning curve which will serve us well for future editions. As we wrap this up, work has already started for next year’s Malta Book Festival. The National Book Council will continue to ensure that the best possible experience revolving around books and reading is delivered to the public on the islands. Looking forward to seeing you next year.
The team of Malta Book Festival 2020 – virtual edition
National Book Council of Malta