Frankfurt Book Fair


– a fertile ground for new ideas and business deals! From October 8 to 12, 2014, the book industry met in Frankfurt for the 66th time. Over 7,000 exhibitors, 2,70,000 visitors and 9,000 journalists and bloggers were present at the biggest event in the book and media industry. Book publishers are expanding the scope of their opportunities to the maximum. They are experimenting with content and technologies, and that spirit of invention pervades the book fair,” said Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, at the close of the five-day event, which attracted more than 2,70,000 visitors. “With more than 9,000 journalists, the book fair offers the greatest possible awareness,” said Boos. “It provides a fertile ground for new ideas and business deals – for those who approach it properly. It’s as true here as anywhere else, that the world belongs to the enterprising people. This means having the courage to cross boundaries, perhaps even to ‘relocate’ mentally to other countries or industries – or simply to take steps in the direction of your customers,” he added.

Guest of honour – Finland

The Finnish demonstrated both a spirit of discovery as well as the courage to move into new areas. With their guest of honour appearance, they occupied spaces in nearly all the halls of the book fair, from children’s books and digitisation, to comics and poetry. The clear-cut design of their presentation in the Forum, and the focus on literature and reading, enchanted many thousands of visitors. Iris Schwanck, project manager for the guest of honour appearance, is convinced that the impact of this exhibition will continue to be felt for years to come.

The Finnish performance as guest of honour ended with the traditional handover ceremony. During this highly emotional ceremony ‘Finnland.Cool’ met guest of honour 2015 Indonesia and its ‘17,000 Islands of Imagination’. For the first time in the history of the Frankfurt Book Fair, the guest of honour pavilion was curated by design students. The three young artists from Aalto University in Helsinki – Natalia Baczynska Kimberley, Nina Kosonen and Matti Mikkilä designed the Finnish pavilion.

Business Club

The internationalisation of the publishing business continues to accelerate rapidly, a fact reflected in the strongly cosmopolitan networking pursued here by the book industry. The new Business Club alone brought together around 3,000 visitors from more than 50 countries to take advantage of its array of conferences, consultations and networking services. In more than 70 sessions, approximately 150 speakers examined the issues and trends of the international publishing and media industries. Several publishers used the book fair as the location for their international launches. David Nicholls, for instance, released his latest novel Us simultaneously in the UK and in Germany (Drei auf Reisen” Kein&Aber), while James Frey’s crossmedial Endgame made its worldwide start here (Oetinger).

Hot Spot exhibition…

Almost 100 tech-based innovators from all around the world made use of the Hot Spot exhibition areas for service providers. As Boos said of the Hot Spots, “There’s probably nowhere else that shows more effectively just how many new ideas – how many new companies – there are at the book fair.” But in the content field, too, there have never been as many new faces at the book fair as there were this year. There were more than 100 first-time exhibitors in the children’s and young adult book segment alone. “The publishing industry has a lot of charm and personality,” said Boos, adding, “And – after an initial moment of panic – it is now demonstrating an astonishing level of mental agility, even in the face of digitisation.”

Authors galore…

Authors, too, demonstrated a willingness to occupy new intellectual spaces. In the project Frankfurt Undercover, more than 20 international writers met over a period of three days to address political issues from the particular perspective of authors. Danish author and initiator of the project, Janne Teller stated, “There is obviously a strong interest on the part of writers to share ideas among themselves, and to assume a more active role vis-à-vis society and politics.” Juergen Boos concurred, saying that exchanges between politics and literature can be fruitful. “Perhaps the power of words and the power of politics should meet more often,” he added.

Digital reading experience enhanced…

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd participated in the Frankfurt Book Fair as its inaugural innovation partner, showcasing the company’s mobile devices and their digital reading capabilities at the world’s largest trade fair for the international publishing industry. The company worked with its partners to engage and support both publishers and consumers through a series of events, such as panels and experiential areas. This included the Samsung Galaxy Studio, where attendees could experience Samsung’s latest mobile devices which represent the next step in mobile lifestyle and culture.

The CONTEC conference and Rights Directors Meeting…

One day before the Frankfurt Book Fair, the technology conference CONTEC brought together decision-makers and strategists from general interest and scientific publishing houses, as well as service providers, start-up entrepreneurs, investors and business developers, in order to examine the latest trends in publishing. Against a backdrop of sustained challenges such as digitisation and globalisation, the industry’s leaders saw optimism and openness as the way forward. On the agenda were sensitive issues like copyright and “big data”, as well as innovative mobile technologies and unconventional publishing models.

Talking on “big data”, one of the most important experts of our time, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, addressed the future of the international publishing market. “The digital world impels us, and enables us to question and rethink well-known institutions,” he said, “if no other reason than to assign them new roles and give them continued relevance. This is also true of the publishing industry.” In future, Mayer-Schönberger sees publishers acting increasingly as curators and guarantors of quality, and he called for more services targeting readers and authors.

While, this year’s International Rights Directors Meeting (RDM) met with an above average level of interest. The meeting focused on one of the most exciting territories for the rights trade – Spanish-speaking Latin America. Speakers from Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Spain provided up-to-date information about their markets; they talked about the state of digitisation there, and answered the question of how best to achieve success in these rights markets.

IFRRO Value of Copyright campaign

The International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO) launched The Value of Copyright, a campaign designed to emphasise the importance of copyright and improve information about the protection of literary and artistic works, primarily in the text and image-based sectors.

Inaugurating at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the campaign features a website – – as its focal point, which aims to provide a single online access point for international and local information on copyright. The website includes news and events, relevant legislation, useful facts, details on the value of the protection of literary and artistic works, in addition to its usage and importance. It provides information on copyright issues, showcases best practices, hosts a forum for all involved to explain how copyright affects them while giving links to authoritative sources on copyright matters, including legal issues.

European Union Prize Winners announced…

The winners of the 2014 European Union Prize for Literature were announced at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The award recognises the best new and emerging authors in Europe. This year’s winners were: Ben Blushi (Albania), Milen Ruskov (Bulgaria), Jan Nemec (Czech Republic), Makis Tsitas (Greece), Oddný Eir (Iceland), Janis Jonevs (Latvia), Armin Öhri (Liechtenstein), Pierre J Mejlak (Malta), Ognjen Spahic (Montenegro), Marente de Moor (The Netherlands), Uglješa Šajtinac (Serbia), Birgül Oguz (Turkey) and Evie Wyld (United Kingdom).

The European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) is open to countries participating in Creative Europe, the EU funding programme for the cultural and creative sectors. Each year, national juries in a third of the countries -13 this time – nominate the winning authors.

Each winner receives Euro 5,000. More importantly, they benefit from extra promotion and international visibility. Their publishers are encouraged to apply for EU funding to have the winning books translated into other languages to reach new markets.

@Frankfurt Book Fair

NBT has been regularly participating in Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) since last 40 years. This year National Book Trust, India participated collectively with three government organisations – Sahitya Akademi, National School of Drama and Publications Division. A delegation of 10 officers represented these organisations in this book fair, which included Debu Sarkar and Rajeev Chaudhry from NBT, India; Dr Suresh Chand from Ministry of HRD, Govt of India; Dr KS Rao and Renu Mohan Bhan from Sahitya Akademi; DS Bisht from NSD; Dr Sadhana Rout, Nidhi Pandey, Rolly Mahindra Verma, and AK Paul from Publications Division.

The pavilion was inaugurated by Raveesh Kumar, consul general of India in Frankfurt. After inauguration, a discussion was held with Raveesh Kumar regarding India Pavilion in Frankfurt Book Fair. He suggested that NBT should come in a big way with some more govt institutions like Sahitya Akademi, Publications Division from next year onwards. He also said that Office of Consulate General will support NBT, India to represent India and Indian publishing in a big way and preparation for the same could start early. So hopefully NBT may participate in Frankfurt Book Fair with a big representation from next year onward.

Sahitya Akademi also sponsored eminent authors Dr Gourahari Das, Ramanunni Karumathil Puthanveetil, Damodar Esvonta Mauzo, Balram Prem Narain, who spoke at a book reading session on India Pavilion.

During the Frankfurt Book Fair, approximately 300 titles from 34 Indian publishers were displayed at India Pavilion along with the books of Publications Division, Sahitya Akademi, National School of Drama and National Book Trust, India. A number of people visited India pavilion and discussed on various topics like rights exchange, publishing, New Delhi World Book Fair 2015 and the book fair in their respective countries. Few important visitors included Kenneth Quek, deputy director, National Book Development Council of Singapore; Mohan Kumar, Sharjah International Book Fair Authority; Kaoru Iwata – Tokyo International Book Fair, Osman Gani, president, Publishers Association of Bangladesh; Aniruddha Das, vice consul, consulate general of India; Betty Tan – Singapore Book Publishers Association; and Linda D Cameron, director, The University of Alberta Press. Besides, several meeting took place between NBT officials and officials of publishing associations, cultural department, and education department of different countries at their respective stands.

(With inputs from NBT, India)

Free self-help books@FBF

Gita Publishing House participated in the Frankfurt Book Fair and freely distributed books on self-help. One American girl exclaimed, “Wow! It’s Christmas again because we are getting so many free gifts at this stall.” They got an opportunity to connect with many foreign publishers like Nigerian and South African Publishers and hope that Rev. Dada J.P. Vaswani’s books will be translated in various languages such as Hungarian, French, German, Romanian, Chinese etc.

Frankfurt Book Fair, India and World Literature

Geraldine Rose and Sridhar Gowda, co-founders of Kadalu Literary and Media Agency, based in the UK and India respectively, share what it means for Indian publishers to be present at international fairs.

I am interested in publishing translations of titles from an international languages that has not been published in Tamil earlier, is one of the reasons that drives Kannan Sundaram to Frankfurt Book Fair each year since 2007 when he was invited on a Book Fair’s annual fellowship programme. Kannan, publisher of Kalachuvadu (started by his late father Sundara Ramaswamy, a well known Tamil writer), says his attendance at the fair has changed the face of his publishing and as a result Tamil readers have been able to read up to 10 books from world literature each year. Kannan was sharing his stand with Urvashi Bhutalia of Zubaan books and was considering bringing Armenian literature to Tamil next year.

VC Thomas, another Frankfurt fellow, is also a regular at the fair and was there this year to acquire Malayalam rights for his Olive publications. Olive also publishes up to 10 international translations each year in Malayalam. Thomas attended an event by a German publisher who had published a book on acid attacks and soon it will be in Malayalam along with other acquisitions from this year. Malayalam has a few more publishers including DC Books who publish international translations.

Our world literature imprint Kadalu has published John Berger’s ‘Ways of seeing’ in Kannada and the translations of Orhan Pamuk, Elif Shafak, Orahn Kemal are underway. As agents, we represent world literature to the Indian subcontinent and were delighted that a Turkish title Aha, by Birgül Oguz, that we represent, won the 2014 EU Prize for Literature which was announced at the fair. This year another title that we represent ‘Iraqi Christ’ by Hassan Blasim had won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

As many important fiction and non-fiction works have not been published in Indian languages, a visit to Frankfurt Book Fair is certainly helping the Indian language publishers.

Frankfurt fellowships have been a catalyst for Kannan and VC Thomas to bring world literature to their native languages and Vinutha Mallya, who has also been on a Frankfurt fellowship programme reported for the Publishing Perspectives, Frankfurt Book Fair Show Daily.

Duckbill, whose children’s publishing programme is reducing the dominance of books by English writers from the West in India by publishing home grown Indian English writers, were one of the publishers selected for the invitation programme of the fair. The invitation programme is co-funded by the German Office of Foreign Affairs and takes place in co-operation with The Society for the Promotion of African, Asian and Latin American Literature (litprom). Sayoni Basu, publisher at Duckbill, said she has greatly benefitted from the programme and was pleased with the interest shown for her titles at the fair.

As we can see the benefit of the Frankfurt Fellowship Programme and the invitation programme, it is time for the Indian trade associations and other organisations involved in publishing, bookselling and promoting literature to consider instituting their own fellowships and grants to increase the much needed professionals for the trade.

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