Frankfurter Buchmesse Welcomes 1,500 Exhibitors from 74 Nations

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The framework and features of a pivotal Frankfurter Buchmesse: We have programming highlights and registration details here, as trade visitors prepare to travel—physically and digitally—to #FBM21.

In the Messe Frankfurt Agora at Frankfurter Buchmesse, 2010. Image: FBM, Peter Hirth

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

See also:
Frankfurt’s Once and Future Guest of Honor: Canada on ‘Quite the Journey’
Richard Charkin: Why I’m Attending Frankfurt Book Fair in Person

Juergen Boos: ‘Finally, Frankfurt Is Taking Place Again’
In Tuesday’s (September 28) news conferences—one for the German news media and one for English-language media—Frankfurter Buchmesse organizers announced that more than 1,500 exhibitors from 74 countries now are scheduled to be in Frankfurt for the 73rd staging of what—in a non-pandemic year—is reliably the world’s largest book publishing trade show.

“I’m really excited and actually can hardly believe it,” said Frankfurt president and CEO Juergen Boos. “Finally, Frankfurt is taking place again in a physical form. And in a digital form, as well, but we’ve been waiting for this moment now for—it feels like—100 years.

“But actually, having had a digital-only fair last year, I think it’s about time that we see each other again.”

Boos reminded the press corps that special permission has been granted by German health authorities to admit as many as 25,000 people per day to Messe Frankfurt, the fairgrounds.

And one thing Boos mentioned to journalists is that Monika Grütters, minister of state for culture, is to open the fair in its ceremonial kickoff events. Grütters, who participated in programming during the 2020 digital evocation of the fair, has been instrumental in supporting Frankfurter Buchmesse with Germany’s billion-dollar Neustart Kultur program, described by the ministry as “the rescue package for the cultural and media sector.”

Juergen Boos

“This is a new book fair for us,” Boos emphasized, “as it usually is every year–but actually this year, it’s brand-new what we’re planning. We’re going to have a studio on the fairground, and we’re going to broadcast from there to all over the world” as well as on-site. In addition, he said, more than 400,000 titles are on the Frankfurt Rights digital rights trading service, and fairgoers can apply now to see, free of charge, presentations in the new digital Master Classes program, running in the week prior to the trade show’s opening.

In that same pre-Frankfurt week, on October 11 and 12, the digital Frankfurt Conference will offer both an academic publishing track (on the 11th) and a trade publishing track (on the 12th), and information and ticketing for that is available now.

New information was provided Tuesday on the Guest of Honor Canada program—being developed in a coordinated hybrid format for Messe Frankfurt and an extensive digital evocation. Here’s our article on Canada’s plans for a its guest of honor pavilion and a hybrid presence online.

In Frankfurt Week itself on the ground, as the trade show’s “hygiene concept” explains, those attending will be required to have provided documentation that verifies either full vaccination, proof of infection and recovery more than 28 days but less than six months earlier; or a negative COVID-19 test result within 24 hours of presence on the fairground. Personalized ticketing will be required, as will a separate ticket for each day, and testing centers will be provided for those who need a test on short notice.

“Having had a digital-only fair last year, I think it’s about time that we see each other again.”Juergen Boos, Frankfurter Buchmesse

Distancing is being stressed, and attendees will be expected to wear face masks at all times except when in a discussion in which the required 1.5 meters of distance is secure. Gatherings on the grounds, organizers said, “will be very, very gently dispersed,” and additional staffing is being deployed in the halls to monitor and ensure distancing.

What trade visitors will find there may be a more international profile than some have anticipated, including, Boos said, 41 national stands. “So it’s really going to be a quite an international event this year although we do have a lot of travel frictions, which means that especially our friends from the United States, from Latin America are still struggling to come to Frankfurt—but there will be some representatives.”

The “LitAg,” or Literary Agents’ and Scouts Center is standing now with at least 70 tables, and the fair reports that more than 140 of the newly introduced “workstation” spaces will be active.

Publishing Perspectives readers are familiar with many aspects of the upcoming fair’s plan. What we’ll do today is look at highlights of the various programmatic features of this year’s trade show.

Frankfurt Studio and Hybrid Programming Highlights

A rendering of the new Frankfurt Studio facility in Messe Frankfurt’s Hall 4, from which live programming will originated and be streamed during Frankfurter Buchmesse. Image: FBM

The development of a physical fair–from which programming can originate and be shared in a digital format–has produced the opportunity to originate programming from the fairground. The central hub of that activity is the new fully equipped Frankfurt Studio, which will produce B2B programming originating from Hall 4 and viewed in the Messe’s central plaza, the Agora, on a huge LED screen.

Markus Dohle

Opening this programming will be Penguin Random House worldwide CEO Markus Dohle in a kickoff live one-on-one interview with Publishing Perspectives on October 20, Frankfurt Wednesday, at 10 a.m. CEST / 9 a.m. BST / 4 a.m. ET.

In his conversation, Dohle will be framing the revelations of the extraordinary experience of the past 18 months and the dynamics of the opportunities and challenges ahead for a world publishing industry that has proved its resilience and potential.

And Verlagsgruppe Random House was mentioned by fair organizers for creating a stand in Hall 3 that is designed to serve as a stage, itself, supporting as many as 30 authors who will be presenting their books during the course of the fair.

Highlights of the Frankfurt Studio programming include (all times CEST):

  • Wednesday, October 20 at 10 a.m. — Markus Dohle in the program-opening conversation with Porter Anderson
  • Wednesday, October 20 at 11 a.m. — The Impact of COVID on the Global Publishing Industry, including the launch of the WIPO Publishing Industry Report
  • Wednesday, October 20 at 2 p.m. — a CEO Talk with Fabrice Bakhouche, deputy CEO at Hachette Livre
  • Wednesday, October 20 at 3 p.m. — Accessibility Now: Will you be ready for the European Accessibility Act in 2025?, which includes a seminar for publishers on accessible ebooks and the award ceremony for WIPO’s ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing
  • Wednesday, October 20 at 5 p.m. — Have a Look at Spain, which offers an overview of publishing in Spain, Frankfurter Buchmesse’s next guest of honor country; presented by AC/E
  • Nelleke Geel

    Thursday, October 21 at 2 p.m. — “The Future of Independent Publishing,” a two-hour program originating entirely from Frankfurt Studio. Juergen Boos will be among speakers including:

    • A keynote address from publisher Nelleke Geel of Amsterdam’s Meridiaan Uitgevers
    • London-based literary scout Rebecca Servadio
    • Picador UK’s Ravi Mirchandani
    • Paris’ Juliette Ponce of Éditions Dalva
    • Pierre Astier of Astier-Pécher Literary & Film Agency
    • Jean Mattern of Éditions Grasset & Fasquelle
    • Sandro Ferri of Rome’s Edizioni E/O

More specific coverage will follow in elements of the new Frankfurt Studio series, as details are firmed up.

A conceptual rendering of the Verlagsgruppe Random House stand for Hall 3 at Frankfurter Buchmesse–designed as a large stage for presentations by more than 30 authors. Image: FBM

Frankfurt Conference, Master Classes, ‘The Hof’

In the week prior to Frankfurt’s opening, two key elements of digital programming will be available both to incoming trade visitors and to those who will interact with the trade show from various parts of the  world.

A digital development first piloted in 2020, “The Hof,” is returning this year, as well, and we list highlights planned for that program below, too.

Frankfurt Conference

Sven Fund

The academic track, on October 11, is programmed by Sven Fund, whose extensive expertise in the industry gives him a high view of trends and issues. He’s gathered speakers from across the academic publishing field to share brief, clear opinions on a single, each on a focused topic. These topics have been chosen by top experts from around the world, who are executing on these issues every day. Registration for the academic publishing program is here. Key speakers include:

  • Rick Anderson, university librarian, Brigham Young University
  • Sara Bosshard, head of open access journals, Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Penelope Lewis, chief publishing officer, AIP Publishing
  • Todd Toler, vice president of product strategy and partnerships, Wiley
  • David Worlock, co-chair, Outsell Leadership Community

Siv Bublitz

The trade publishing track, on October 12, covers the consumer publishing market and addresses core publishing issues in the form of mini-keynotes, videos, lightning talks, and fast-moving interviews. Registration for the trade publishing program is here. Key speakers include:

  • Siv Bublitz, president and publisher, S. Fischer Verlage
  • Cyrus Kheradi, senior vice President of international sales and marketing, Penguin Random House
  • Anna Soler-Pont, founder, Pontas Agency
  • Jeffrey Sharp, film producer, executive director, The Gotham Film & Media Institute
  • Peter Warwick, president and CEO, Scholastic

Frankfurt Master Classes

There’s a schedule for this new series of events, case studies, and more here, and you can apply to watch (with your My Book Fair log-in) here.

Highlights include (all times CEST):

  • Monday, October 11 at 4 .m. — Audio Publishing: Behind the Scenes (produced by HarperCollins)
  • Tuesday, October 12 at 5 p.m. — How digital transformation works at a mid-sized academic publishing house (produced by De Gruyter)
  • Wednesday, October 13 at 4 p.m. — Audiobooks beyond the audio: How Skeelo hacked the market in Brazil
  • Thursday, October 14 at 3 p.m. — Partnering for Innovative Business Models for Open Access Publishing (produced by Copyright Clearance Center)
  • Thursday, October 14 at 4 p.m. — Reverse Mentorship: What tomorrow’s publishing stars can teach us today (produced by PublisHer)
  • Thursday, October 14 at 5 p.m. — ResearchGate and Publishers: A New Era (produced by ResearchGate)
  • Friday, October 15 at 11 a.m. — Freedom to Publish: The shadow of self-censorship + announcement of the 2021 IPA Prix Voltaire shortlist (produced by the International Publishers Association)

‘The Hof’

Simon de Jocas

Building on last year’s success, “The Hof” series continues this season with a new line-up of interviews and networking for industry professionals. Produced and hosted by journalist Felix Zeltner, the program this year will run networking sessions following the two Frankfurt Conference tracks, as well as talks with industry leaders and authors.

You’ll find scheduling here, and registration is here. Highlights (all times CEST):

  • Monday, October 11 at 5:30 p.m. — Hof Networking for Academic conference attendees, featuring Richard Charkin and Sven Fund
  • Tuesday, October 12 at 5:30 p.m. — Hof networking for trade conference attendees, featuring Simon de Jocas
  • Monday, October 18 at 4 p.m. — Fireside chat with Juergen Boos and Bodour Al Qasimi, and celebration of the 125th anniversary of the International Publishers Association
  • Tuesday, October 19 at 7 p.m. — A conversation with literary agent Andrew Nurnberg and author Cornelia Funke
  • Friday, October 22 at 5 p.m. — Conversation with Royd Tolkien, film producer and great-grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien

The ground plan for the 73rd Frankfurter Buchmesse. 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.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner to the International Publishers Association. 

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 is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he 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.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (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.

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