Frankfurt on a Shoestring

In Feature Articles by Olivia Snaije

By Olivia Snaije

euro_coinWith the Frankfurt Book Fair looming, UK independent publishers hard hit by the economic crisis are trimming and pruning wherever they can for the upcoming Book Fair. While the Book Fair is considered vital, a general trend is that publishers will be sending fewer people to Frankfurt this year.

Juliet Mabey, publisher and co-founder of Oneworld based in Oxford says she has cut down the number of editorial staff attending Frankfurt this year to just three. London-based Stacey International and Saqi and Telegram books have also reduced the number of people going to Frankfurt.

Of course, once in Frankfurt there is also the prohibitive cost of hotels to contend with (in 2003 the Book Fair had threatened to move to Munich because Frankfurt hotels drastically inflate their prices during the Fair), which requires a certain amount of planning and dexterity on the part of independent publishers.

Most publishers book budget hotels months in advance, while others have been known to rent hotel rooms in the smaller cities surrounding Frankfurt, such as Mannheim, Mainz or Wiesbaden. But after a long day at the Fair, a longish train ride can be daunting.

Saqi and Telegram books have found a solution in Rodelheim, a calm suburb a mere 10 minutes from the Fair by train. “We rent apartments and reserve for the following year within a fortnight of the end of each Fair,” says sales and marketing manager Ashley Biles. “We have a good relationship with the landlady and find that staying in an apartment is rather more pleasant than staying in a hotel.”

Oneworld relies on a travel agent who specializes in finding accommodations during big fairs ( and books the same small hotel each year, usually in July. “If booking direct, we would probably have to reserve in December!” says Juliet Mabey.

As far as low-cost meals are concerned, Mabey recommends the “very cheap Indian self-service restaurant on the third floor of Hall 9.” She says it is affordable and fast, “but it isn’t there every year.” She also recommends the staff café in Torhaus (between halls 8 and 6) that sells a range of hot food at affordable prices, and is open to the public.

Mabey adds, “Like many Brits, we make up filled rolls at breakfast — cheese, ham, gherkins, and tomatoes — to tide us through the day, as the queues at the cafes in Hall 8 can be prohibitive.”

When leaving the Fair grounds at the end of the day David Birkett, sales and marketing manager for Stacey International, recommends an Indian restaurant, Spice (Moselstrasse, 20, 60329 Frankfurt, Tel. 069 2400 6608), as well as a somewhat more expensive Lebanese restaurant, l’Emir (Westerstrasse, 17, 60329 Frankfurt, Tel. 069 2400 86 86), which features live belly dancing.

Ashley Biles likes Trattoria da Luca, a ten-minute walk from the Exhibition Halls (Trattoria da Luca, Mendelssohnstrasse, 44, 60325 Frankfurt, Tel. 069 74 88 30).

And once most of the work has been done, Biles has a soft spot for Lalibela, an Ethiopian restaurant  a little farther towards the east end of Frankfurt, north of the river, which advertises “love at first bite” (Klingerstrasse, 2-4, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Tel. 069 29 38 31).

About the Author

Olivia Snaije

Olivia Snaije is a journalist and editor based in Paris who writes about translation, literature, graphic novels, the Middle East, and multiculturalism. She is the author of three books and has contributed to newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Global Post, and The New York Times.