Spain Signs on as Frankfurt Book Fair’s 2021 Guest of Honor

In News by Porter Anderson

Three decades since its last appearance at the Frankfurt Book Fair as Guest of Honor, Spain will use its 2021 program to raise awareness of Spanish-language literature and creative industries.

Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, Spain’s minister of education, culture, and sport, speaks at the signing of a 2021 Guest of Honor memorandum of understanding with Juergen Boos, Frankfurt Book Fair director. Image: © Frankfurter Buchmesse / Marifé Boix-García

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Boos: ‘Illuminating and Documenting These Times’

Sain will be the Frankfurt Book Fair’s Guest of Honor nation in 2021, following Canada’s stint in 2020. The dates of that year’s fair, a bit later than in some years, are October 20 to 24.

Interestingly, the event will fall 30 years after the last time that Spain held the role of Guest of Honor at the fair.

As with this year’s Guest of Honor from France, Spain’s focus in 2021 will encompass and embrace one of the world’s most widely spoken languages. Today, with an average of 80,000 new publications per year, Spain is among markets producing some of the highest output in the world. It’s estimated that as many as 500 million people speak, read, and/or write Spanish and it is, of course, the largest language second to English heard in the United States market.

A joint memorandum of understanding has been signed by Frankfurt director Juergen Boos and the Spanish ministry of education, with support from the Spanish Publishers Association.

In a prepared statement, Boos is quoted, saying, “Spain, like many other European countries, is experiencing very turbulent times, revealing political tensions and a divergence of viewpoints.

“Cultural workers and writers face the particular challenge of not only illuminating and documenting these times, but also of reinterpreting them constructively and of building bridges.”

For leaders in Spain’s robust literary industry, the goals for the 2021 Guest of Honor program include showcasing of Spanish literature and authors, as well as strengthening the international network for Spain’s creative and cultural industries.

Spain’s appearance as Guest of Honor ties in with a program of intense reading promotion, running 2017 through 2020. Adopted by Madrid’s cultural secretary of state on 3 May, the program has a slogan, Leer te da vidas extra, or “reading gives you extra lives. The chief directive of  the reading campaign is to disseminate Spanish culture internationally.

According to information released by the Frankfurt Book Fair to the media, Spain’s book industry is one of the most important economic drivers within Spain’s cultural sector.

Citing the Spanish ministry of education, culture and sports’ yearbook for 2016, the book and newspaper industry in 2016 contributed 0.9 percent to the total gross domestic product and 34.1 percent to the total gross domestic product of the cultural industry.

This level of activity makes publishing Spain’s most important cultural industry and a creator of jobs. In 2015, the sector reportedly employed 515,000 people, with 49,500 (9.6 percent) working for the publishing industry, which includes not only books but also periodicals. Spain itself is considered fourth among European nations in market importance, following Germany, the UK, and France.

The list now of confirmed upcoming Guest of Honor appearances at the Frankfurt Book Fair is:

  • Georgia, October 10-14, 2018
  • Norway, October 16-20, 2019
  • Canada, October 14-18, 2020
  • Spain, October 20-24, 2021

More about Frankfurter’s annual Guest of Honor program is here and in coverage from Publishing Perspectives here. Madrid and its region of Spain are Guest of Honor this year at the upcoming Guadalajara International Book Fair, November 25 to December 3, as reported here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.