Richard Charkin’s Frankfurt, Day Two: ‘Candide’

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At Frankfurter Buchmesse, ‘The stands constructed with huge enthusiasm are a testament to optimism,’ Richard Charkin writes.

The team at Bonnier’s Igloobooks from Northamptonshire take a pizza break during the setup at Frankfurter Buchmesse 2022. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Richard Charkin

By Richard Charkin | @RCharkin

See also: Frankfurt Week: A New Report on the Indian Book Market

‘With a Spring in My Step’
Tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes possibles. (“Everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”)

Richard Charkin

Wandering the halls of Frankfurter Buchmesse on the eve of its opening day (October 19) could make a philosopher of anyone, including me.

The stands constructed with huge enthusiasm are a testament to optimism.

The more attractive the stand, the more we’ll sell—or at least the more attention we’ll get for our books. Creating an ambience is what it’s all about.

Of course, by the weekend, the attraction will be wearing a little thin but everyone will declare the fair a triumph. Frankfurt is indeed the best, in the best of all possible book fairs.

‘Developing Businesses Around the World’

The stand for one of Richard Charkin’s former berths, Bloomsbury, being readied for Frankfurter Buchmesse 2022. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Richard Charkin

One of the questions people ask me while I’m strolling around is what I’ve missed most in the three years since I stepped down from my executive roles in publishing.

It’s easier to say what I don’t miss—interminable meetings attended by too many people; failing to make decisions about trivial matters; telling people they can’t have a pay rise or a change to their job titles; trying to make peace between warring divisional heads; arguing about overhead allocation; saying sorry to authors for some perceived injustice. I could go on.

However, I do miss the excitement of trying to pull together a team to build a new business or a new campaign.

Richard Charkin with colleagues from India’s Prakash Books, during Frankfurter Buchmesse 2022. Image: Publishing Perspectives

And I miss developing businesses around the world—in China, in Latin America, in the Middle East, and perhaps most of all in India.

I’ve had dinner with the sparkling team at Prakash Books. And this evening I’ve attended a reception given by the indomitable Federation of Indian Publishers. I think that perhaps I’m an Indian at heart.

Now off to Hall 6.1 for the meetings at the heart of the week with a spring in my step as I read this message of hope for independent booksellers around the world.

At Frankfurter Buchmesse 2022. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Richard Charkin


As Publishing Perspectives readers know, Richard Charkin, our columnist and an international advisory board member of Frankfurter Buchmesse, is giving us updates on his impressions this week during Frankfurt 2022.

Our Frankfurter Buchmesse Show Magazine now is out—in print on the Messe Frankfurt for trade visitors and exhibitors, and here in a free digital download for our world readership online.

The magazine has extensive coverage of issues and trends that are leading discussions and debates at the trade show this year, along with interviews, profiles, and commentary in this strongly attended Frankfurt year. Click here for your download (PDF).

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.

About the Author

Richard Charkin

Richard Charkin is a former president of the IPA and the UK PA and for 11 years 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 former president of The Book Society and non-executive director of 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 the Frankfurt Book Fair, Bonnier Books UK’s Advisory Board and is a senior adviser to nkoda.com. He is a non-executive director of Liverpool University Press, and Cricket Properties Ltd as well as founding his own business, Mensch Publishing. He lectures on the publishing courses at London College of Communications, City University, and University College London. Richard 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.

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