Frankfurt Aims for 70 Percent of Its Pre-Pandemic Size

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In today’s German and international news conferences, key elements of Frankfurt Book Fair were spotlighted by organizers.

Frankfurter Buchmesse president and CEO Juergen Boos speaks at a news conference for the German press, September 8. Image: FBM

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

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Growing Programming, Strong Registration
In a press briefing with international news media members today (September 8), Frankfurter Buchmesse president and CEO Juergen Boos has said that trade-visitor and exhibitor registration levels are running so strongly that after checking sales figures this morning, he believes the trade fair can reach overall numbers of some 70 percent of the show’s size in 2019.

He pointed out that North American trade-visitor registration at this point, particularly from the United States, is at “about the same” level as it was in 2019, while major publishers’ stands at Messe Frankfurt this year will be at roughly the same size as they were before the onset of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

As we’ve reported previously, there are more than 4,000 exhibitors registered, accounting for international trade participation from at least 80 nations. And in the last few weeks, professional programming elements of the 74th edition of Frankfurt Book Fair have expanded to feature full days of competing and complementary events.

With the Literary Agents & Scouts Center (LitAg) sold out and a waiting list in place, many international trade visitors and publishing leadership figures are rushing to finalize travel arrangements.

News today has included word that King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain will join German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the opening ceremony of the world’s largest book publishing trade show on the evening of October 18. During that event, Guest of Honor Spain will open its pavilion under its slogan, creatividad desbordante, meaning overflowing creativity. There’s a full site dedicated to Spain’s programming and concept here.

Many will now be downloading Frankfurt’s trade show’s app to help organize their schedules around business meetings and professional programs. More features new this year have to do with organizers’ new context and plans to handle any reported instances of discrimination, and you can read details of these plans and innovations here.

And among the many fellowship programs included in this year’s Frankfurt framework, Boos highlighted the fact that the Invitation Program fellows includes key cohort of African publishers, that outreach enhanced by cooperation with the International Publishers Association‘s Africa Publishing Innovation Fund, a program very familiar to Publishing Perspectives readers.

Programming Points

A design rendering of Frankfurt Studio, the television production facility in Hall 4.0, this time in its second year. Image: FBM

The professional program has continued to expand for the 2022 Frankfurt Book Fair, with several focal points.

Publishing Perspectives Forum in Messe Frankfurt’s Congress Center, Room Spektrum offers two days of B2B programming that will feature separate Executive Talks with HarperCollins UK CEO Charlie Redmayne and Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial CEO Núria Cabutí.

More top speakers include:

  • Curtis Brown Group CEO Jonny Geller
  • Scholastic president and CEO Peter Warwick
  • Liz Ferguson, senior vice-president of research publishing at Wiley
  • Ama Dadson, the AkooBooks founding CEO based in Accra
  • Knowledge Unlatched senior director Sven Fund
  • Oxford University Press USA academic publisher and president Niko Pfund
  • Ingram Content Group senior vice-president David Taylor
  • Shereen Kreidieh, publisher at Asala Books in Beirut
  • Klett-Cotta publisher Tom Kraushaar of Germany
  • Wil Harris, CEO of London-based Unbound
  • Pei-Shan Huang of Taiwan’s SloWork Publishing
  • Ūla Ambrasaitė of Lithuania’s Lapas Books

You can follow our program development as we add more speakers and details at our site for the Forum here.

And while the Publishing Perspectives Forum is the venue our team here is most familiar with as we program its events and speakers, the fair’s overall calendar of events will be populated soon online with more events and personalities making appearances.

Here are more venues you’ll want to watch as their programming is rolled out in detail:

Focus on Ukraine and the assault on it opened by Vladimir Putin on February 24, for example, takes special focus this year. With a motto of “Perseverance in Persistence,” a special evocation of Ukrainian culture and programming is to be centered at the Ukrainian country stand in Hall 4.0, featuring some 100 square meters and events curated by the Ukrainian Book Institute in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut. There’s also a program being developed for publishers from Ukraine and nearby countries, a part of the trade fair’s extensive fellowship programming.

Frankfurt Studio, the television production center inaugurated at the 2021 trade show in Hall 4, this year features extensive programming with a live audience welcome. For example, you’ll find:

  • An opening day Executive Talk conversation with Planeta book division CEO Jesús Badenes del Río
  • A discussion hosted by Boos and featuring international book fair and trade show directors Eva Orúe, director of Feria del Libro Madrid; Aliou Sow, founder of Guinea’s Éditions Ganndal and the founding director of Salon International du livre de jeunesse de Conakry, and international children’s book fair; and Rex How, chair of the Taipei International Book Exhibition and chair of Locus Publishing Company in Taiwan
  • An examination of data and its importance and potential in world publishing will feature Bodour Al Qasimi, president of the International Publishers Association (IPA); Ronald Schild, CEO of MVB;  and Kevin Fitzgerald, director of digital outreach at the World Intellectual Property Organization
  • The Libri Italiani Accessibili (LIA) group has a session called “Accessibility in Action: Three Challenges for the Publishing Industry” with LIA’s Cristina Mussinelli; Taylor & Francis’ Stacy Scott; and Cantook Publishing’s Mélissa Haquenne
  •  The Taiwan delegation will host not only a book market spotlight with Kim Pai, Su Shin, Pei-Shan Huang, and Catrina Liu, but also a look at “Horror, Amour, and Elegy with novelist Bo-Ching Chen, film critic Nathalie Chang, and graphic novelist Animo Chen
  • Wattpad senior vice-president for publishing Ashleigh Gardner and Rakuten Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn in a CEO Talk

Frankfurt Pavilion is making a return to the Agora, and will have a full slate of cultural and political programming available.

Frankfurt Kids Conference runs 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. on October 19 in the Conference Center’s Illusion Room. In this program, specialists will talk children’s books in a socio-political content and from an international viewpoint. Ticketing information is here.

The MasterClass series returns this year, for companies looking to present and promote their businesses prior to the opening of the trade show. Running from October 10 to 14, this digital series will again require audience members to apply for access. And another digital event planned for the fair is the online networking session called “The Hof” at 5 p.m. CEST on September 8 and 29, and on October 19.

The Frankfurt Pavilion returns this year to Messe Frankfurt’s Agora for cultural and political programming. Image: FBM

Additional Notes

Publishing Perspectives did have a chance at the international edition of the news conference today to ask about the rationale for the decision to welcome public (non-trade) visitors to Buchmesse on “Frankfurt Friday” (October 21).

As Boos pointed out, offering the public a chance to arrive on Friday, rather than waiting until Saturday, effectively expands by one day the book-festival aspect of the show, which includes dedicated public-event programming. This gives “our European customers,” he said, a better chance “to present their authors to the German public. And on the other hand, we’re going to focus from Wednesday to Friday a lot more on our trade visitors. So we have more dedicated programming, a good compromise,” while also ensuring that the fairgrounds don’t become too crowded when book and author fans join the events for the weekend.

Boos also had good news about the ability of many trade visitors in the Asian markets to travel to Frankfurt this year.

There had been concerns around new COVID-19 outbreaks in recent months in parts of Asia, and though mainland China’s industry players may encounter travel limitations, Boos said that publishing colleagues from Hong Kong are expected, as are delegations from Taiwan, Korea, and Japan.

We’ll have more specifics on programming and other news as it’s developed by organizers. The best way to track this is at our top-bar navigation tab “Frankfurt 2022” where our latest information and guidance will be found most easily.


More from Publishing Perspectives on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more from us on guest of honor programs is here, more on Spain and its guest of honor plans for Frankfurt is here, more on the German book and publishing market is here, and more on book fairs and trade shows in the world publishing industry is here.

Follow our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing players and international industry reactions. More on the Ukrainian Book Institute is here

Publishing Perspectives is the International Publishers Association’s global media partner, and that of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award and Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre.

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 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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