Online meetings and downloadable signatures: writers’ alternative Sant Jordi

April 23 normally sees huge book sales and many in-person events, but authors are forced into creative different plans due to the lockdown

A reader looks at the various online programmes offered by publishers Grup 62 (by Pere Francesch)
A reader looks at the various online programmes offered by publishers Grup 62 (by Pere Francesch) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 23, 2020 01:20 PM

Sant Jordi, celebrated every year on April 23, is a celebration of Catalonia’s patron saint where people buy each other books and roses. In normal circumstances, it is the most romantic day of the year in the country, with red petals adorning the façade of Gaudi’s iconic Casa Batlló, and authors signing books on Barcelona’s Passeig de Gràcia, among other places, often drawing long queues from fans hoping to meet their favourite writers.

This year, of course, things are different. The state of alarm in place means there are no public gatherings, no spectacles, and no bookshops or florists to buy from. Some booksellers are doing sales online and delivering the orders to people’s houses, but predictions still say that sales will be down on normal Sant Jordi Days. 

Very often, authors publish books in the weeks and months leading up to this day, in anticipation of the increased public interest, higher sales than normal, and opportunity to publicize and meet fans on Sant Jordi’s Day. This year, the meet-and-greets are taking place online rather than in person. 

Elsewhere, some sellers of books and roses have agreed to celebrate the traditional festival on July 23, when it is hoped people can safely take to the streets once more. 

Online talks and signings

Publishers, bookstores, and some media outlets have scheduled various activities throughout the day so that authors can be in touch with their readers. 

Xavier Bosch, Javier Cercas, Almudena Grandes, Care Santos, Raül Garrigasait, David Nel·lo, Núria Cadenes, Gemma Ruiz, Jordi Nopca, Empar Moliner, David Castillo, Jordi Borràs, and even the Chilean writer Isabel Allende are some of the authors who have an online appointment this Thursday with their readers.

The authors of publishers Grup 62 and Penguin Random House, for instance, will hold meetings from their homes to talk about their works, and these talks can be followed on the publisher's Instagram account.

More than 70 authors from the Grup 62 collective have written autographs and messages for this Sant Jordi’s Day. Readers will be able to download the dedication together with the first chapter of the book on the Grup 62 website and share it.

Over 80 writers associated with the Penguin Random House Editorial Group are also doing similar online parties. Penguin will broadcast over 12 hours of cultural video pieces to celebrate the day on their Instagram page. 

Author Marta R. Gustems, whose first poetry book 'A boca de fosc' (‘The mouth of darkness’) has just recently been published, has recorded some videos in which she recites some of her works. 

Independent bookstores holding events

Independent bookstores are also holding similar events to mark the day. A day of talks is scheduled on the social accounts of Roca Editorial, where, among others, Gonzalo Boye, the lawyer of Carles Puigdemont, will appear.

Editorial Flamboyant, a publisher that focuses on books for children, will host a poetry workshop and illustration classes.

Ona Llibres are holding conversations with authors throughout the day too, as well posting book recommendations from some of their editors, highlighting what might be of particular interest this year. 

Furthermore, the online project #LlibreriesObertes is aiming to keep small independent shops in business by providing an online platform for people to buy and pre-order books that can be collected once the lockdown restrictions permit it.