By Olivia Snaije
With blue skies over Frankfurt, the world’s media was welcomed to the Book Fair’s opening press conference yesterday morning.
Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, and Richard Robinson, President and CEO of Scholastic Inc. presided.
Dr. Gottfried Honnefelder, President of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, began by giving an overview of the German book market, which at the end of September was down 2%, with e-books sales about 2% of the total. The “bricks and mortar” book trade is down 4.7% and “this is a figure we need to think about,” said Honnenfelder. He added that independent bookstores were generating new ideas and that politicians and the government should support its development.
The publishing market overall, on the other hand is growing, not shrinking, asserted Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, Juergen Boos. However, “what used to constitute a straightforward, reliable sector framework is now sprouting in all directions.” The Book Fair has developed a “Roadmap to Publishing Trends” which identifies patterns and changes in the industry and shows new business models, emerging cultural patterns and identifies what skills will be necessary in the future.
“The publishing universe is changing and the school blackboard has morphed into a touch screen,” said Boos. “We need to be curious, open-minded and enjoy experimenting.”
Scholastic’s President and CEO Richard Robinson’s presentation focused on the potential of children’s books as leaders in the digital world, at the same time as classics such as Good Night Moon, Where the Wild Things Are or Lord of the Rings, are constantly being rediscovered.
Children’s publishing “will likely become the leader in pioneering new forms of reading because, as we all know from watching babies with iPads, children are intuitive digital readers,” said Robinson. “While print picture books will never go away, children’s trade and educational publishing should quickly develop new forms of book creation and distribution, so our publishing world could be quite different by the year 2020,” he concluded.