The inaugural LéaLA was held from April 29–May 1, 2011 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Presented by the University of Guadalajara, the Spanish language book fair is modeled after the popular Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara, which celebrates published works from around the world.
I attended LéaLA with my wife and brother-in-law, who are from Guadalajara. Their interest in the fair was to browse a selection of Spanish language books that far exceeds that of bookstores in the U.S. They weren’t disappointed. The selection included novels, poetry, sciences, art, photography, pop culture, children’s books, non fiction and more.
As a book designer, I spent my time at the fair looking at books with the most interesting visual designs. Of the publisher booths I visited at LéaLA, I was most impressed by Trilce Ediciones of Mexico City, a publisher of illustrated books and museum exhibit catalogs on subjects ranging from lucha libre to Mexican street art to photographs of Cuban life. Run by Déborah Holtz and Juan Carlos Mena, the Trilce Ediciones booth caught my eye right away with beautifully designed books and display posters. Juan Carlos Mena, the art director and book designer for Trilce Ediciones explained to me that the business environment for publishers in Mexico can be challenging. Events like LéaLA open a new market for Mexican publishers, while offering a vast selection of Spanish language titles to attendees, under one roof. Many of the books that were on display at LéaLA are simply not available in the U.S.
In addition to the numerous books for sale, LéaLA featured author presentations, panel discussions, workshops, conferences, children’s programming and music events. Attendance when we visited, on Saturday, April 30th, looked impressive.
Congratulations to the LéaLA organizers, sponsors, publishers, authors, workers, volunteers, and attendees for a successful 2011 event. May LéaLA become a cherished annual event in Los Angeles, and perhaps extend its reach to other U.S. cities.