Frankfurt Book Fair highlights tectonic shifts in publishing

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The charm and charisma of the Frankfurt Book Fair has retained, even though the publishing industry worldwide, seems to be undergoing tectonic shifts. With around 7,300 exhibitors and around 276,000 visitors, the show was undoubtedly successful.
The global publishing industry literally converged at Frankfurt Book Fair 2013 from October 09-13 at Frankfurt, Germany. With around 7,300 exhibitors in total, from more than 100 countries, and a throng of visitors, numbering about 276,000, the Frankfurt Book Fair predicted major industry trends. While, Brazil’s appearance as Guest of Honour presented with a thoughtful and self-critical nation, far removed from the clichés of sun, sandy beaches and Samba. But it was not only Brazilian authors calling for equality of opportunities and access to education; similar demands were made elsewhere at the fair: in numerous events, the Literacy Campaign (LitCam) of the Frankfurt Book Fair highlighted the incredible statistic, according to which there are around 7.5 million functionally illiterate people in Germany today.

Socio-political exchanges…

On stages such as the Weltempfang – Centre for Politics, Literature and Translation (Hall 5.0), events examining the crisis in the EU and the question of how children and young people shape their lives during times of crisis, were very well received. Visits by numerous politicians, including Michel Barnier, EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, demonstrated the importance of the Book Fair as a place for socio-political exchanges. “It’s simmering beneath the surface,” said Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

“You can feel that, not only at the social level – at the level of the fair as a crowd-puller – but also at layers deeper within the Book Fair where you find the new business areas.” He believes the Book Fair has shown how “new tectonic shifts” are emerging in publishing. “We can see the ongoing concentration of the publishing sector, but at the same time there is a plethora of new, creative players, including start-ups, tech specialists, investors and business developers in all the creative industries.”

Brazil as Guest of honour…

“Brazil – A land full of voices” – was the motto of their Guest of Honour presentation at the Frankfurt Book Fair. In the Brazilian Pavilion, designed by the prominent designer duo Daniela Thomas and Felipe Tassara, a tribute to paper and literature awaited the visitors. Ornate walls made of cardboard, film installations and a wide event program with readings, discussions and music attracted thousands of visitors each day. The international book exhibition “Books on Brazil” showed 1000 titles from 302 publishers and 23 countries. More than 150 Brazilian publishers participated at the 711 sq m large collective stand in hall 5.1. A Brazilian program was presented throughout the Book Fair, including the Comic Center, Gourmet Gallery, LitCamLive and the Forum Education.

New concepts, new beginnings…

When the industry is changing, how can book fairs be the same? Thus, new conference formats, such as CONTEC and StoryDrive, certainly contributed to the rapidly changing face of the Book Fair, and to the fact that it now attracts new groups of visitors. Sarah Doole, creative director worldwide drama with the FreemantleMedia Group, one of the biggest suppliers of content in the European TV market, is sure about one thing: “We are experiencing a golden age of storytelling that has only just begun.” Around 3,500 participants from 72 countries took part in more than 20 seminars and conferences of the Frankfurt Academy. Here, too, the number of international participants showed an increase on the year before.

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