Photos from Frankfurt: An Optimistic Start to the Fair

In News by Hannah Johnson

Our reporters captured scenes Tuesday and Wednesday as publishing people rerturned to Frankfurter Buchmesse, eager to meet again.

Energy and Community
Despite lower numbers of exhibitors and visitors to Frankfurter Buchmesse than in previous years, the mood in the halls is optimistic. In keeping with Publishing Perspectives‘ tradition of bringing you photos from many parts of the fair, we’ve gathered some impressions from the first days of Frankfurt 2021 as people return to their stands and to in-person meetings.

Celebrating on set-up day, October 19: Mörderischen Schwestern, a network of authors, readers, booksellers, editors, publishers, and other women in publishing who are ‘united by a passion for crime fiction in all its forms.’ Image: Publishing Perspectives, Johannes Minkus

Off to a roaring start: Tessloff Verlag sets up its dino display, inviting passersby to check out ‘Was ist was’ (‘How and Why’ in English), its children’s nonfiction brand of books and content that dates back to 1961. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Johannes Minkus

The staff at Katapult Verlag, launched in September 2020 and making its debut at Frankfurt Book Fair, pitches in to move their bookshelves into place at the stand. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Johannes Minkus

Founded in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 2018, Tilisma creates handmade wooden book stands and other accessories which ‘support bookworms around the world.’ Here, the team sets up their Frankfurt stand. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Johannes Minkus

At the Swiss Publishers Association stand, head of the international department Myriam Lang shows off the ‘book curtain’ of Swiss books. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Johannes Minkus

On Wednesday (October 20), Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle kicked off the Frankfurt Studio program in a wide ranging discussion with Porter Anderson about the state of publishing. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Johannes Minkus

Juergen Boos and Rüdiger Wischenbart at Frankfurt Studio on Wednesday (October 20), kicking off this year’s Global 50 CEO Talk. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Johannes Minkus

Remembering the Hessischer Hof

The Hotel Hessischer Hof stands silent now, a victim of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. It closed at the end of 2020 when the Messe Frankfurt complex itself was quiet. This year’s Frankfurt is the first without the hotel’s glowing presence.

As many in the industry know, the hotel’s first-floor ballroom was the venue for Hachette’s opening party for decades, while Jimmy’s piano bar in the basement saw special receptions for authors, events in which they could meet their international publishers.

The downstairs lobby and bar, with its sofas and intimate tables, was a mini-Messe in its own right. It was at its best in that hour before dinner when you might see publisher Ivan Nabokov (cousin of Vladimir) with Christopher MacLehose of Harvill, the translator Carol Janeway with Knopf’s Sonny Mehta—both no longer with us—the agent Georgina Capel with Weidenfeld’s Alan Samson, the eponymous publisher Antoine Gallimard chatting with Faber & Faber’s Stephen Page.

Now the hotel’s famous staircase stands empty. It looks forlorn without its distinguished queue of agents and editors waiting for the hotel’s smartly dressed staff to summon taxis.

The hotel is only a building of course, and that staircase is only a staircase, but for many both hold memories, and it’s good to mark their place in publishing history. —Roger Tagholm

More from Publishing Perspectives on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here and see our special highlights page for events to consider. 

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

About the Author

Hannah Johnson


Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.