Richard Charkin’s Frankfurt, Day One: Schadenfreude

In News, Opinion & Commentary by Richard Charkin

Brexit bites as Richard Charkin takes his place in line at Flughafen Frankfurt for the big trade show.

Passport control at Frankfurt Airport, the section for citizens of the European Union, ahead of Frankfurter Buchmesse. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Richard Charkin

Editor’s note: Our columnist Richard Charkin is an international advisory board member of Frankfurter Buchmesse. He’s giving us updates on his impressions this week during Frankfurt 2022. — Porter Anderson

By Richard Charkin | @RCharkin

Passport Line: ‘Longer Than the Flight From London’
Arrived yesterday evening at Frankfurt Airport. The above photo shows the almost nonexistent line for European Union citizens to show their passports.

Richard Charkin

And the photo below shows the line for the rest of us, that line now including British citizens.

The glee with which the officials pointed out that Brexit was our choice exuded unalloyed Schadenfreude. My saying that it wasn’t my choice didn’t impress.

Please God—and not just to suffer shorter queues—we can find a solution whereby the United Kingdom can rejoin the community of decent, like-minded democracies of Europe before the English Channel turns into a Pacific Ocean.

The queue took longer than the flight from London, but the tedium was relieved by spending time in line with my friend, Kaveh Bazargan, one of the unsung heroes of scholarly publishing with his brilliant support company, River Valley Technologies. Frankfurt is all about those chance meetings, both enjoyable and practical.

Passport control, the non-European Union line at Frankfurt Airport ahead of the opening of the 2022 Frankfurt Buchmesse. Image: Richard Charkin

First up, a meeting of the international advisory board of the Buchmesse. Regrettably it was a confidential meeting, but I can assure you that the management of the fair is diligent in its efforts to serve the book world in all its crazily complex facets.

A quick trip across town to the new location of the celebrated STM conference at the Hilton led to a meeting with the publishing industry’s foremost defender of the rights of creators, readers, and indeed even publishers, the legal superstar Carlo Scollo Lavizzari.

I quote from a speech he gave as he leaves his role at STM:

Carlo Scollo Lavizzari

“Copyright is the right to publish under one’s own steam, shouldering all the risks entailed. In exercising that right, publishers work hard for every dime they earn during the lengthy process of transforming an author’s original work into a book, regardless of the format in which it eventually becomes available for purchase.

“In simple terms, what I’ve been up to is this: trying to ensure that you are paid for the valuable work you do and that you don’t find yourself in jail, or worse.”

Our publishing world is a better place for having people like Carlo on our side.

He also described the scientific publishing community as a bastion of innovation and creativity, savvy, kind, and human-centered. That describes all of publishing in my view.

More on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on this year’s Guest of Honor Spain is here, more on guest of honor programs and markets is here, and more on international book fairs is here, more on industry statistics is here.

Join us monthly for Richard Charkin’s latest column. More coverage of his work from Publishing Perspectives is here.

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

About the Author

Richard Charkin

Richard Charkin is a former president of the International Publishers Association and the United Kingdom’s Publishers Association. For 11 years, he was executive director of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. He has held many senior posts at major publishing houses, including Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Current Science Group, and Reed Elsevier. He is a former president of the Book Society and non-executive director of the Institute of Physics Publishing. He is currently a board member of Bloomsbury China’s Beijing joint venture with China Youth Press, a member of the international advisory board of Frankfurter Buchmesse, and is a senior adviser to and Shimmr AI. He is a non-executive director of Liverpool University Press, and Cricket Properties Ltd., and has founded his own business, Mensch Publishing. He lectures on the publishing courses at London College of Communications, City University, and University College London. Charkin has an MA in natural sciences from Trinity College, Cambridge; was a supernumerary fellow of Green College, Oxford; attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School; and is a visiting professor at the University of the Arts London. He is the author, with Tom Campbell, of ‘My Back Pages; An Undeniably Personal History of Publishing 1972-2022.’ In the June 2024 King's Birthday Honors, Charkin was made a member of the Order of the British Empire, OBE, for his "services to publishing and literature."