Buchmesse’s Next Guest of Honor: Spain Returns to Frankfurt

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After more than 30 years, Spain returns to Frankfurt as guest of honor in 2022 with a broad array of rich and vibrant programming. (Sponsored)

Press conference on Thursday, October 21 at 2021 Frankfurter Buchmesse to present Spain as the upcoming Guest of Honor. Image: Johannes Minkus

Publishing Perspectives Staff Report

‘Overflowing Creativity’
As Frankfurter Buchmesse 2021 heads into its weekend, the traditional Guest of Honor Handover Ceremony is set for Sunday (October 24) at 4:30 p.m. CEST (14:30 GMT) on the ARD Book Fair Stage in the Festhalle.

And with much appreciation for the “Singular Plurality” of Canada’s multicultural focus in its guest of honor turn at the trade show this year, excitement is building for the three decade return of Guest of Honor Spain to the 2022 Frankfurt Book Fair, which will run October 19 to 23.

As was emphasized on Thursday (October 21) press conference, the Spanish guest of honor program has as its top-level slogan, Creatividad Desbordante, an ebullient, joyous phrase that means, essentially, overflowing creativity—irrepressible, vital, unstoppable.

And those qualities of such are evident everywhere in the plans already being provided from Madrid as the Thursday inauguration of program as being “three decades on.” Spain will be next year’s guest of honor at Frankfurt 31 years after its last outing in the role in 1991.

Miquel Iceta Llorens

Special guests in the announcements of the week have included:

  • Miquel Iceta Llorens, Minister of Culture and Sport
  • María José Gálvez, Director-General of Books and Promotion of Reading at the Ministry of Culture and Sport
  • Elvira Marco, project director of Spain’s participation as Guest of Honor at Frankfurt Book Fair 2022
  • Rosa Montero, writer
  • Elvira Lindo, writer
  • Najat El Hachmi, writer
  • Karmele Jaio, writer
  • Mario Obrero, poet

And in that press conference, the theme of next year’s special presentations was clarified by the speakers: “We are imaginative, digital, inclusive, sustainable … we overflow with creativity.” 

Javier Celaya

Later in the day, the Bilbao-based specialist Javier Celaya, founding partner of Dosdoce.com and head of Podimo for Spain and Latin America was seen in the new Frankfurt Studio live-origination programming stream, leading a special conversation about the future of these approaches  in Spain and its fast-growing digital publishing industry.

More events coming this week—just to mention one per day—include:

  • ‘Based on True Stories’: What are the limits of fiction and reality in literature? Does writing autofiction relive life? With Manuel Vilas, poet and writer; Borja Ortiz de Gondra, playwright, novelist and translator.
    Today, October 22, 1:00 p.m. CEST (broadcast)
  • ‘Spain-Germany: The Novel as a Laboratory and Theater of the Human’: What subjects interest Spanish and German readers? Are there points in common? A conversation dedicated to the connections between the two countries, both of which have been welcoming voices from other parts of the world. With Patricio Pron and Nino Haratischwili.
    Saturday, October 23, 6 pm. CEST (broadcast)
  • ‘The Role of the Writer in the 21st Century,’ a conversation with Munir Hachemi and Juan Bonilla, with special thanks to Circulo de Bellas Artes.
    Sunday, October 24, 12:30 p.m. CEST (broadcast)

The range and size of the Spanish market(s), of course, continue to expand, and the nation, itself, has a formidable legacy of literary prowess evident in even the simplest numbers:

  • There are more than 774 publishers in Spain, a country with a population of some 47.4 million
  • Five of those publishers rank among the largest publishers in the world
  • Off the books published in Spain, 24.1 percent aren’t written in Spanish. They orginate in languages including Galician, Catalan, Basque, and others
  • And rights sales show especially good energy, with more than 7,289 rights transactions made in 2020
A Richly Complex Market

Canada’s Carolyn Fortin and Spain’s María José Gálvez join Juergen Boos at the Frankfurter Buchmesse guest of honor handover ceremony. Image: FBM, Marc Jacquemin

As Guest of Honor Spain’s programming develops, industry professionals are going to see a structural coherence develop around five main points of definition that Spain’s literary world knows to be fundamental to its success.

We can quote the text that organizers are offered, to help begin your orientation to the picture of this major publishing power.

  • Editorial strength: “The book industry has undergone a transformation. It is currently the main cultural activity in Spain and has shown that it knows how to adapt to new realities quickly, becoming an example for other sectors.”
  • Sustainability: “Sustainability and ecological awareness is one of the main challenges of the publishing industry. That is why Spain is committed to innovation to achieve the sustainability of the book. Eco-publishing, ecological packaging, the use of renewable energies, green libraries and a commitment to the environment are some of the proposals that are being explored to achieve a sustainable transformation.”
  • Bibliodiversity and linqusitic plurality: “Spain is synonymous with diversity. In the Spanish territory there are a variety of cultures and languages ​​that enrich the literary offer. In recent years, in addition, a generation of writers who reflect on the roles of women in contemporary society, motherhood or feminism have stood out in the literary scene. It is necessary to highlight the bibliodiversity in the publishing sector in which we find a diversity of literary genres, authors of different generations and subjects.”
  • Creativity and digitization: “From ink to tweet. The digital transformation has been a revolution in the literary industry and we have approached it in a creative and strategic way. Spain intends to show the opportunities that digitization offers to increase capacities in the technologies of the world of books.”
  • The Latin American cultural bridge: “Ibero-American literature is part of our common heritage. From the Latin American boom of the 1970s that dazzled with magical realism to the present day in which a new generation of immigrant writers opens the way to a new era of connections between Latin America.”

And in an especially clear statement of purpose, organizers of the 2022 Guest of Honor Spain program offer two main, overarching goals.

First, the program is intended “to show the strength of Spanish culture with a focus, of course, on the book industry.”

And the second goal is “to improve Spanish literature awareness abroad”—the rights-trading mission—with an important note that all the country’s official languages are to be lifted, and “at one of the most interesting moments in recent history, with sustained growth both in internal sales and exports.”


More from Publishing Perspectives on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here  and see our special highlights page for events to consider. More from us on Guest of Honor Canada among international book markets is here, and more on diversity and multiculturalism is here.

More from us on Spain and the Spanish markets is here.

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

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