Frankfurt Confirms Physical Fair, 60 Nations Among Exhibitors

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

North and Latin American, Asian, and European markets take national stands, as authors including Helen MacDonald, Eva Menasse, and Aminata Touré are announced.

In Hall 3 at Frankfurter Buchmesse, a shot from the 2009 trade show. Image: FBM, Peter Hirth

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

‘Re:Connect, Re:Boost’
As Publishing Perspectives readers know, Frankfurter Buchmesse‘s 73rd edition is anticipated to be a physical event running October 20 to 24 and utilizing the fairgrounds’ Halls 3, 4 and 6, as well as the Forum, the Festhalle, and the central Agora.

In an update to the news media today (July 7) carrying new “Re:Connect, Re:Boost” branding, Frankfurt organizers say that the on-site event is a go, subject to the pandemic’s progression and health and safety regulations in place. Thanks to special funding from Germany’s Neustart Kultur funding program (essentially “Restart Culture”), exhibitors’ registrations are backed by a no-risk guarantee that assures them they won’t lose money should the public health situation prevent the physical presentation of the fair as expected.

Ticket sales are to open in August.

And the public health news from Germany for the moment is relatively upbeat. As the BBC and other news media are reporting, Berlin today is lifting its previous ban on travelers from the United Kingdom, Portugal, Russia, India, and Nepal. Fully vaccinated visitors from these countries won’t have to quarantine, though unvaccinated people will be required to quarantine for up to 10 days. (With a negative test after five days, visitors can cut that quarantine time in half.)

Registration From 60 Markets

At this writing, Frankfurt reports that 60 nations are represented by publishers, literary agents, service vendors, and relevant institutions now registered for a stand at the fair.

North America, Latin America, and Asia will have national stands in place, as will major European markets including France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and Central and Eastern Europe.

And nearly all the major German publishing groups and the full gamut of German-language literary and nonfiction publishers have registered to take part. Exhibition halls will include featured publishers from art and children’s books, religion, education and academia.

Authors announced today as being scheduled to appear in October at the trade show in Frankfurt include Helen MacDonald, Bülent Ceylan, Colm Tóibín, Elke Heidenreich, Dietrich Grönemeyer, Daniela Krien, Janina Kugl, Eva Menasse, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Sven Regener, Edgar Selge, and Aminata Touré.

Those who have enjoyed hearing from authors on the fair’s traditional “Blue Sofa” (Das Blaue Sofa) will find it once more in Hall 3.1, curated as before by Bertelsmann, ZDF, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, and 3Sat. Those discussions, like many features of the fair, will also be streamed live.

Digital Events Coordinated With the Physical Trade Show

The ARD Book Fair Stage, a broadcast studio operated by German public television outlets—seen here in the 2020 edition of the trade show—will be back at Frankfurter Buchmesse in October, in the fairgrounds’ Festhalle. Image: FBM, Marc Jacquemin

In parallel to the physical edition of the trade show, a program of online offerings is being put together, of course. The digital programming is to include live broadcasts from Messe Frankfurt, online presentations of events held in the city of Frankfurt, and programming created expressly for the digital space.

As debuted last year, the ARD Book Fair Stage will be broadcasting from the Festhalle with panel discussions and book presentations examining analytical and aspirational issues spurred by the theme “How Do We Want To Live? Our Stage for the Future.” This brings in questions of sustainability, diversity, housing, work, education, and digitization, with wall-to-wall streaming of the entire output from the ARD Stage.

ARD, as Publishing Perspectives readers know, is a consortium of public-service broadcasters from various parts of Germany. Its specially staged events in a gleaming studio set last year in the domed Festhalle were the one point of in-person operation in an otherwise digitally rendered edition of the fair.

 Guest of Honor Canada

In addition to Guest of Honor Canada operating its pavilion and programming in the Forum on the first level, English- and French-language publishing houses from Canada will also be welcoming visitors at collective stands on the fairgrounds.

The full Canadian program, “Singular Plurality, Singulier Pluriel,” was held over from last year for this year’s staging, which will feature digital events as well as the physical pavilion as well as activities on the ARD stage and at various performance venues in the city of Frankfurt.

A list of new releases for Buchmesse currently includes more than 380 titles by Canadian authors or about Canada.

Publishing and Book Award Events

As those who follow our international awards coverage know, several honors are annually conferred during the course of Frankfurter Buchmesse. These include:

  • The German Book Prize, to be awarded October 18 at Frankfurt Römer (city hall)—the winner of this honor is not known prior to the ceremony
  • The  World Intellectual Property Organization will make its presentation of the 2021 Accessible Book Consortium International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing on October 20 at Buchmesse
  • The German Business Book Prize from the financial news medium Handelsblatt will be presented on October 21 at Hotel Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof
  • A German Youth Literature Award is scheduled to have its ceremony on October 22 in the fairgrounds’ Congress Center
  • The Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, to be awarded to Zimbabwean author and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga on October 24 at Paulskirche (the Church of St. Paul) in Frankfurt
Digital Elements of Frankfurt 2021

Capitalizing on last year’s digital programming, Frankfurt organizers say they’re working with MVB and the Berlin-based consultant Syzygy Group to create “digital business models for the B2B and B2C segments that can complement the on-site exhibition over the long-term.” The new partnership with the consultancy in Berlin is to run until 2024.

A half-day paid digital Frankfurt Conference program is set for October 11 in the week prior to Frankfurter Buchmesse, with several tracks. It’s expected to run from 1 to 6 p.m. CET that day. And “The Hof” digital networking event series is in the works, starting September 30,  as well, with a new addition called “master classes,” designed as one-hour sessions on best practices with interactive components. Details of these programs can be found here.

Exhibitors and customers who have opted not to have a stand at this year’s fair are welcome to be involved in these formats and to register as digital exhibitors in the exhibitor directory and include their events in the calendar of events.

Frankfurt Rights and Frankfurt Matchmaking, the online platform programs, will be available, of course, Frankfurt Rights now featuring more than 1,500 companies and some 10,000 individual buyer and seller profiles. The book database is reported to hold 400,000 titles.

The Matchmaking tool will again be open to those registered with a MyBookFair profile.

A Frankfurt CEO Talk program is expected to be part of the programming on October 20.

Local Community

At a 2020 BookFest event at Frankfurt’s Kunstverein Familie Montez with author Richard David Precht. Image: FBM, Marc Jacquemin

“In town,” Frankfurt’s public outreach program, BookFest, will again have five days of events including readings, concerts, discussions, workshops, per regulations at the time, in many venues around the city.

German-language authors from Austria, Switzerland, and Germany will participate in the “Open Books” program, which places literary reading events into various venues of Frankfurt, highlighting the German publishing industry’s new releases for the autumn. There’s an “Open Book Kids” edition of this on the weekend for children’s and YA titles, and discussions of recommended reading lists from the broadcaster SWR are anticipated to be tied into activities set at the German National Library and Frankfurt’s city hall.

The public will be invited to attend the show earlier than in the past, starting at 2 p.m. on Frankfurt Friday, October 22. Book sales are to be permitted on all days the fair is open to the public.

Safety Protocols

In preparation for the trade show in October, Frankfurter Buchmesse organizers have worked out a set of procedures aligned with COVID-19 regulations put into place by the state of Hesse and local authorities. Several points are being outlined today:

  • Admission to Messe Frankfurt, the fairgrounds, will require a personalized ticket
  • Visitors will enter only after showing documentation that affirms their status as either fully vaccinated or testing negative for the coronavirus COVID-19
  • Crowd control measures will limit the total number of participants at any one time
  • Video cameras will monitor crowd movement patterns on the fairgrounds
  • Extra staffing will be in place to implement health and safety guidelines, and exhibitors will be given specialized advice on any questions they may have about safe attendance and operation

You can read more and monitor developments relative to safety precautions here.

The Coronavirus in Germany

At this writing, the 6:21 a.m.ET (1021 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees 3,739,651 cases in Germany’s population of 83 million, with 91,118 fatalities. These numbers place Germany at the current 12th place in the world for COVID-19 caseloads and 10th in terms of death tolls.

Even as the country opens its earlier ban on travelers from several nations, Reuters Berlin reports some concern domestically for Germans who are not following up the first of their two COVID-19 vaccine doses with a second. Caroline Copley and Andreas Rinke report, “Around 39 percent of Germans have now received the recommended two shots, while 56.5 percent have had at least one dose.”

As in many world markets, the presence of the extremely transmissible “delta” variant B.1.617.2 first detected in India is causing some increases in daily cases, following more than two months of steady declines. A separate Reuters report this morning cites the Robert Koch Institute registering “985 new infections to bring the total to 3.73 million, a rise of 177 cases compared to the daily increase a week ago.” The daily death toll shows some improvement, however, at 48 instead of last week’s daily 56.

Image: FBM

More from Publishing Perspectives on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on the German market is here, and more on publishing trade shows and book fairs is here

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is 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.