In Paris and Frankfurt, Cookbooks Get “Fair” Treatment

In Feature Articles by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka


Cointreau will launch the world's first trade show exclusively for cookbooks in Paris next year.

BEIJING: “I’ve been going to the Frankfurt Book Fair since 1995 and the number of cookbooks on offer at the show has quadrupled since that time,” says Edouard Cointreau, chairman and founder of Gourmand International, speaking from Beijing, where he’s busy filming a cooking series for the Chinese Food Network. “In the US alone, cookbook sales have risen 9% since 2001 and, even in this recession, sales are up 4% over last year. The fastest growing segment of the cookbook business by far is self-published books and those are the types of book you don’t get to see at trade shows, so that’s one of the reasons why I thought it was important to start my own just for cookbooks.”

Cointreau is best known for running the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, an event he started in 1995. The Awards have been presented annually in a variety of global locales, from Kuala Lumpur to London, and honor cookbooks in 58 different categories of food and drink. They are open to any book from any country in any language; in the most recent competition, books from 126 countries were submitted.

At his new cookbook-only trade fair, “The Paris Cookbookfair,” Cointreau will try and capitalize on the geographically vast network he’s established. Unlike the Gourmand Awards it will not move, but will have a permanent home in Paris, a “city that has a reputation for culinary excellence, is halfway between Asia and America, just two hours by train from London, and a place where people from the Middle East are comfortable visiting,” said Cointreau.

The inaugural event is scheduled for next year on February 11-14, 2010. The site will be Le 104, the hip new industrial exhibition/arts center opened in October 2008, and for the first year at least, the exhibition space will be limited to 4,000 sq. meters. “This will be a reasonably big space for publishers, cookbook authors, agents and others to mingle and do business,” says Cointreau, who will offer space for cooking demonstrations, samples and a “rights center” for deal making. A large bookstore is already on site.

Not to be left behind, this year for the first time the Frankfurt Book Fair is dedicating a formal area to highlight cookbooks and food-related trade. The “Gourmet Gallery” will offer 400 sq. meters of display space in Hall 5.0 dedicated to “all things epicurean,” and will now include a show kitchen for live demonstrations. A book exhibition on the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards will also occupy an an area of the Gourmet Gallery in Frankfurt this year.

“For many years,” says Cointreau, “there were only 150 sq. meters of space available for cookbooks at Frankfurt and we had 40% of that.” ┬áThe big difference between his event and Frankfurt’s, says Cointreau, will be that the focus of the Paris show will be on selling cookbook rights — something that hasn’t been a priority at Frankfurt — and his open door policy.

“In Australia last year, the 4 Ingredients cookbook [by Rachael Bermingham and Kim McCosker] sold 1.4 million copies — and it was self-published. But, because of that fact, you wouldn’t be likely to ever see it a traditional book fair.” The same goes for China, says Cointreau, where he states there are between 12,000 and 18,000 cookbooks published each year, many of them without ISBNs, putting them in the same unclassifiable category. “We plan to invite all of these authors, including the self-published, to Paris,” said Cointreau, “There’s no reason, provided their books are high quality, they shouldn’t be able to participate on equal footing with all the other publishers. There’s a real opportunity here for cookbook publishers to discover some new talent, particularly from other countries.”

VISIT: The Web site of the Gourmand Book Awards.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

Edward Nawotka is the Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. A former foreign correspondent, he has covered the book business since 2000, serving as daily news editor for Publishers Weekly and columnist for Bloomberg News.