I’ve had the privilege of attending the Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany for many years, especially in my current role as Director of IngramSpark. Frankfurt is considered to be the largest and most prestigious book fair in the world where the entire publishing industry gathers together for a massive celebration of everything related to books. If you’ve never been to Frankfurt, I’d like to give you my impressions of what goes on there so you are aware and hopefully have the chance to visit one day. It should definitely be on your bucket list of things to do as an author and publisher.
Welcome to the Frankfurt Book Fair
First of all, the Frankfurt Book Fair is massive in scale. As a comparison, the largest book fair in the US is Book Expo America that is typically held in New York City at the Javits Convention Center (840,000 square feet of exhibit space). Frankfurt is at least six-eight times larger than that with eight separate but interconnected halls all the size of Javits. Each year Frankfurt plays host to some 270,000 visitors, 7,100 exhibitors from over 100 countries and an army of roughly 9,300 journalists and bloggers. So it's spectacular in scale but not overwhelming once you get the lay of the land since each hall is organized thematically.
The first three days of the fair are all business where publishers, agents, authors and service providers are buzzing around making deals with each other. Appointments are set months in advance and are usually 30 minutes in duration. So as an attendee with a full slate of appointments, it is a dash to go from one hall to another. Trade publishers have their new titles on elaborate display in what is known internationally as “stands” rather than “booths” as we call them in the US. Hall 6 is where I was camped out in the IngramSpark stand along with most of the American publishers. This hall also is where the literary agents are housed together all on one entire floor. Authors are there in abundance from many countries meeting with agents, editors, and scouts pitching their manuscripts. I personally met with self-published authors from many countries including Canada, China, Australia, Japan, Germany, Netherlands, Israel and Russia who were seeking distribution into the US market.
Indies at the Fair
Frankfurt started paying attention to indie authors and publishers about five years ago and has programs throughout the fair specifically targeted to this audience. In addition, Frankfurt offers paid space to indies in a special section of Hall 6.0 either individually or as part of a collective stand such as what IBPA and Combined Book Exhibit operate. There I talked with a children’s book publisher who was signing deals with publishers in Korea, China, Russia, Spain, etc. who would translate his books into their native language and republish under their own imprint in that market. He said that this year had been really productive and that the deal he made with a Korean publisher had paid for his trip. Next year he plans to have an even larger space in the collective stand.
Hall 6 features US trade publishers, literary agents and indie publishers from around the world
Festivities and Fun
After the three business days are concluded, most publishers leave the fair which is then open to the public. Thousands of German youth turn out dressed as characters in their favorite books. I have to say it is a festive time with so many young people talking about books and proudly showing off their hand-made costumes
Next year, the Frankfurt Book Fair will take place from October 11-15, 2017 so make your plans to visit now. The Frankfurt Book Fair is a meeting place for the industry’s experts and the most important marketplace for books, media, rights and licenses worldwide. Be they publishers, booksellers, agents, film producers or authors - each year in October, they all come together and create something new. To learn more go to http://www.buchmesse.de/en/fbf/
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