The 2020 Miami Book Fair is Over but you can Still Access Hundreds of Authors and Events at MiamiBookFairOnline.com
Since its inception, Miami Book Fair has consistently provided support and a platform to vital literary voices – both emerging and established – across cultures, identities, and generations. Now, in its 37th year as an internationally recognized beacon of literary excellence, social relevance, and the inherent power of the cultural arts, it has responded to the current worldwide situation and reinvented itself as a completely virtual experience.
MiamiBookFairOnline.com, a digital platform created especially for the Fair, will present its 2020 slate of more than 300 authors in adult fiction, nonfiction, poetry, comics, and children’s and YA literature. Virtual fairgoers will be able to browse through programs, create watchlists, and view their picks on demand, much like a “Netflix for books,” as it’s affectionately been called. Programs start streaming November 15, and will remain available for some time after Book Fair week closes on November 22.
“I’ve been a part of Miami Book Fair since I was 16 – first as a fairgoer, then as staff – and while I’ll miss the in-person event that so many thousands of people look forward to, I’m absolutely invigorated by what we’ve created in its stead.” said Lissette Mendez, MBF director of programs. “The focus of the Fair has always been the authors and their books, but its overarching purpose is to provide a space for people to gather and take part in a free exchange of ideas and opinions, so we’ve created a way for visitors to stay physically distanced but socially engaged.”
The Fair began as “Books on the Bay” in 1984, 14 years after Miami Dade College in a visionary move, founded Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami, at the time considered a less-than-desirable location. Few could wrap their heads around a two-day celebration of books and authors; fewer still could imagine how it would evolve. But years before museums and performing arts centers altered the downtown landscape and long before “social entrepreneurship” was a catchphrase, Miami Book Fair endeavored to foster open access to the authors and thinkers influencing the collective zeitgeist by creating a place in the city center dedicated to fellowship through arts and letters.
With its first literary festival, MDC established itself as a cultural engine that to this day, continues to serve the community with a sense of adventure and innovation. And while the Fair’s trajectory has been forced to change course, it is still being driven by the same spirit of community and connection.
“What we’re building with Miami Book Fair Online will help us reach and engage with people who otherwise would have zero access to the Fair, pandemic or no pandemic,” said Delia Lopez, MBF’s director of operations, “including people who can’t travel or have physical or other limitations that keep them from attending. The Fair is essentially accessible to anyone, anywhere, with an internet connection.”
The luster of the Fair’s attending authors list continues to shine this year with such luminaries as Rumaan Alam, Joy Harjo, Natan Sharansky, Bari Weiss, Ben Okri, Dr. Paul Farmer, Yaa Gyasi, Robert Hass, Claudia Rankine, and Margaret Atwood, among others. Celebs-turned-scribes Lenny Kravitz, Natalie Portman, and chef Marcus Samuelsson are also participating. A big bonus of having a virtual Fair is that visitors don’t have to decide which favorite author to see when more than one is appearing at the same time.
“The pandemic has made it impossible for us to physically gather, but we can essentially create, on the web, all of the same experiences we’ve always loved about the Fair,” said Natalia Crujeiras, executive director for MDC Cultural Affairs. “We believe we must always bring books to readers wherever they are, and where they are right now is at home. We’re embracing the challenge of creating a new way to experience the Fair. In the meantime, we’re hoping that 2021 will see us all back together at Wolfson Campus.”
How to experience Miami Book Fair Online
Access hundreds of authors on demand. Registration is free and simple; visit MiamiBookFairOnline.com and sign up using your email address or Facebook account.
Build your personal watchlist. Browse the Program Schedule or the complete list of authors and save events to Watchlist to build your personal schedule and receive same-day notifications for the “shows” you don’t want to miss.
Join live special events and Q&As. Each event will have a dedicated video page for the stream with author bios and links to purchase books, as well as special downloadable content.
Explore the Virtual Marketplace. Shop official MBF swag – including the 2020 commemorative poster by award-winning children’s book illustrator Dan Santat – and browse the latest in books, ’zines, and comics and graphic novels for readers of all ages.
Experience MBFO’s digital projects. “Here in Florida” is an interactive map focused on the work of more than 40 writers, poets, and other artists inspired by life in the Sunshine State, featuring visual artist Gustavo Oviedo|131 Projects, site-specific digital installations by Christina Patterson, films by Aaron Davidson, and photography by Gary Monroe, Barry Fellman, and Carl Juste. Children’s Alley/Wembly Wordsmith’s Storytorium “island” has interactive storytelling, virtual workshops, and live concerts that explore the wonders of music, science, art, storytelling, world cultures, and health.