The Frankfurt Book Fair at a glance!

DSCN2357_2 The Frankfurt Book Fair is the biggest annual book fair in the world. It took place last week and I was there, tagging along with publisher Pilrig Press, who had a spot on the wonderful Publishing Scotland stand.  What was the fair like? Well, here are the three main things I discovered:

1) The fair area is so big it has own train and tube station and a stream of  shuttle buses to ferry everyone back and forth between the different halls. There were about ten halls/exhibition areas in use for the Book Fair, some seemed the size of a small football stadium, and all were  full of people dealing in the creation and selling and buying of books.

2) The first three days were for trade only ie: publishers, booksellers, agents, printers and anyone and everyone involved in the trading of books – but not writers! Many of the publishers doing business had their own stand, or shared a stand. For most publishers, doing business means finding other publishers who want buying the foreign rights to your books. There was a feeling of concentrated effort and calm excitement and. (I’m delighted to say there was interest from Italian, German and French publishers in books by Pilrig Press!)

On these first three days, at around 5.30pm, most “official” work stopped and the different stands/publishers held “welcome” events. Suffice to say much alcohol was consumed and nibbles nibbled and the Irish certainly know how to throw a party!

3) The last two days of the fair were for the public. Compared to the first three days, these days were bedlam. Books, which were not allowed to be sold before (the Frankfurt Fair rules!) could now be sold. To avoid the cost of shipping the books home, most stand holders sold their display books off at a discounted prices. This created a frenzied buying and a last day of the sales atmosphere – I saw one boy walk away with a cardboard cut out of a life sized superman under his arm. The last day was even crazier as heaps of young  Germans arrived at the fair dressed up as their the favourite Anime character.

Overall, I loved it. Probably because I wasn’t there to work, just to look. And although I didn’t see everything, I certainly saw a lot. Let me tell you, the book is not dead. Far from it.  If I was to sum up the atmosphere of the fair in one sentence, I’d say it was like Disneyland but without the rides – and an awful lot of  books :)

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8 Responses to The Frankfurt Book Fair at a glance!

  1. Barbara says:

    Interesting read! Hope the ‘foreign interest’ ends up in something positive.

  2. Sounds like you had a great time, Marianne! I’m jealous of your “Ich bin hier” badge. ;-)

    • Ha ha ha! I’ve got two – the second one is yours ;) Thanks again for your tips, they really helped. I wore good comfy shoes and focused on the ‘fiction’ sections of the International halls and worked slowly outwards towards the home halls of Germany. Brazil was the guest of honour, their bit was pretty impressive – that’s were all the hammocks were. There were lots of talks and events too, some better than others. I did have a great time but I was really lucky cause I could just browse and wander and soak it all in and didn’t have to work, if you see what I mean? Marc was on the go the whole time and was pretty pooped at the end of it. If you’re going for business, which most people are, it’s not for the faint-hearted, as you know! That said, we’re thinking of going again next year, I may not get off so lightly then ;o)

  3. Wendy Clarke says:

    It’s a fascinating insight to what goes on behind the scenes, Marianne.

    • It was also a tad humbling and rather overwhelming. Books are such BIG business. Interestingly some of the bigger stands, like Random house, had huge pics of their celebrity authors everywhere rather than the books. I find this kind of promotion of “celebrity writers” (rather than their books) slightly depressing, if you see what I mean? All interesting :)

  4. Ruth F. Hunt says:

    Hello Marianne,
    Thanks for such a great insight into Frankfurt book fair and some fab photographs. It looks amazing, but also exhausting. Glad you took your comfy shoes!! Did you find it inspiring being with other authors and publishers?
    Super that there was interest in Pilrig Press books from such a variety of countries. Well done to Pilrig Press!

  5. Hi Ruth, you’re very welcome :) To be honest there were not that many other writers there because its really for the trade side of the business. That said, the German halls had quite a few author events ( in German, of course) and while that was interesting, I didn’t know any of the authors. I did meet some other authors, though, mainly when at the wee “parties” in the evenings. And, yes, it was nice, because we all seem to face similar problems, despite coming from different countries and backgrounds. It was also good to meet the publishers. They all seemed positive and generous with information even when they couldn’t help, if you see what I mean? Most publishers seemed to want to only sell the rights of their own boks, rather than buy any so it was great that Marc made such good contacts. Of course, its early days and who knows what will happen but fingers crossed something will come of it all eventually. It’s all been a great experience. What you do realise as an author, is just how much hard work there is to being a publisher. :)

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