Frankfurt’s Guest of Honor Italy: Preview Press Conference

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The preview press conference for Frankfurt’s Guest of Honor Italy featured officials and authors preparing for October’s program titled ‘Roots in the Future.’

The preview press conference for Guest of Honor Italy in Frankfurter Buchmesse’s 76th year described a guest of honor pavilian being designed to evoke an Italian piazza at this year’s Frankfurt, the trade show running October 16 to 20. Seated on the dais at the news conference are, from left: Juergen Boos; Innocenzo Cipolletta; Armando Varricchio; Mauro Mazza; Stefano Boeri; Ginevra Lamberti; and Anna Giurickovic Dato. Image: FBM, Marc Jacquemin

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

Boos: 150+ New Italian Works Translated Into German
The “preview press conference” has become a tradition for each year’s guest of honor market at Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20).

Tuesday’s news conference (May 28) for  Guest of Honor Italy actually presented a major international book market formally opening its second appearance as guest of honor at Frankfurt in 36 years: Italy was guest of honor at Frankfurt Book Fair in 1988.

Featured in  the news conference program:

  • Juergen Boos, president and CEO of Frankfurter Buchmesse
  • Armando Varricchio, Italian ambassador to Berlin
  • Mauro Mazza, Rome’s Extraordinary Commissioner, for the guest of honor project
  • Innocenzo Cipolletta, president of the Italian Publishers Association AIE
  • Stefano Boeri, Architect and Urban Planner
  • Authors Anna Giurickovic Dato and Ginevra Lamberti

As Juergen Boos, Buchmesse’s president and CEO told representatives of the news media in Frankfurt am Main, “With the guest of honor program, Frankfurter Buchmesse puts the literature and culture of a country center stage.

“The Guest of Honor agreement with Italy was signed in 2018 and preparations have been in full swing ever since.

“More than 150 new publications from Italian have already been published in German as part of the guest of honor program, and the list continues to grow.”

At the world’s largest trade show for the international book publishing industry, Boos said, “Many publishers take the guest of honor appearance as an opportunity to invite authors from their program to Frankfurt.

“The trade fair audience can therefore look forward to diverse and numerous young literary voices from Italy, authors including Claudia Durastanti, Igiaba Scego, and Vincenzo Latronico, whom we recently met at the Torino Book Fair, as well as Ginevra Lamberti and Anna Giurickovic Dato, whom we welcome at the press conference. And many more will inspire us in Frankfurt.

“We’re already presenting our first reading tips in Pride Month June.”

Frankfurter Buchmesse president and CEO Juergen Boos at the 2024 Guest of Honor Italy news conference. Image: FBM, Marc Jacquemin

In addition to the comments from Boos, members of the press physically present in Frankfurt were able to hear from Mauro Mazza, Rome’s Extraordinary Commissioner appointed for the guest of honor program.

Also present were Innocenzo Cipolletta, president of the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE), as well as architect and urban planner Stefano Boeri, and authors Ginevra Lamberti and Anna Giurickovic Dato.

Rome’s Extraordinary Commissioner to the Guest of Honor Italy program, Mauro Mazza, at Frankfurter Buchmesse’s preview press conference in Germany on May 28. Image: FBM, Marc Jacquemin

A Question Over Italy’s Choice of Authors

Since the news conference on Tuesday, some complaints have been heard in Italy about the guest of honor program’s selection of some 100 authors anticipated to be part of the Italian delegation to Frankfurt.

Roberto Saviano

By Wednesday, the Italian news services were reporting that the prominent Italian novelist Sandro Veronesi had announced that he would not be part of Italy’s Frankfurt delegation because the left-leaning author Roberto Saviano had not been included in the delegation. (Saviano had a show on the state television network RAI about the Mafia until Meloni’s government took office in late 2022.)

The Extraordinary Commissioner, Mazza, issued a statement saying that “It was not a question of discrimination” that had prevented Saviano’s presence in the list of 100 authors but an intention to “give space to authors who have not had [the honor] in the past.”

Sandro Veronesi

Unsatisfied, Veronesi said that the list had been impacted by “interference by the premier,” Giorgia Meloni, “and her most trusted aides.”

In further answer to such complaints, both the Guest of Honor “Destination Frankfurt” organizers in Italy and Frankfurt’s administration have made it clear that Frankfurt does not make the selection of which authors are included in any guest-of-honor program in any year: these decisions are up to each nation’s in-country guest of honor programs.

To Publishing Perspectives today (May 29), organizers of the Guest of Honor Italy program based in Milano with the AIE have said:

“The Italian Publishers Association recalls, as explained yesterday by the president Innocenzo Cipolletta, that the choice of guest authors in Frankfurt is the result of a procedure, made up of a fruitful dialogue and comparison with individual Italian publishers and literary agents, starting precisely from their proposals.

“Among the proposals on the basis of which the program was built, many authors are obviously missing, including, at least until today, Roberto Saviano.

“The IEA would never have allowed and will never allow external interference with respect to the will of the publishers.”

And at Frankfurt, Torsten Casimir, vice-president for communications and content, confirms to Publishing Perspectives:

Torsten Casimir

“We are generally not commenting on authors’ comments on the invitation list of a guest of honor, we are even not commenting on the list itself.

“These are decisions of the guest of honor, not of the Frankfurter Buchmesse.

“But we emphasize that for Frankfurter Buchmesse, diversity of opinions, of perspectives, and the freedom of the word are essential.”

Italy’s Book Market,1988 to 2024: Selected Statistics

The following statistics are provided to Publishing Perspectives by Italia Francoforte 2024. Looking back over the 36 years since Italy was first the Frankfurter Buchmesse guest of honor, these are some of the more striking changes in the market.

Overall Market
Cover Price Valuations
€652 million in 1988
€3.4 billion in 2023
Up 412 percent
Up 103 percent at constant value
Print Books
On the Market
250,000 in 1988
1.4 million in 2023
Up 460 percent
Translation Rights
Sold Abroad
1,800 in 2001 (first year of compilation

 

7,889 in 2022 (latest available data)
Adult and Children’s Titles
Cover Price Valuations
€361 million in 1988
€1.8 billion 2023
Up 400 percent
Up 98 percent at constant value
Adult and Children’s Titles
Numbers published
23,750 (1988)
68,791 (2023)
Up 190 percent
Publishers
Overall
2,315 (1988)
5,184 (2023)
Up 124 percent

Publishing Perspectives will have further coverage coming shortly and offering more insights into the plans for Guest of Honor Italy in October.


More from Publishing Perspectives on Italy and its book publishing industry is here, and more on the Italian Publishers Association (AIE) is here. More on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on its guest of honor program is here, and more on Guest of Honor Italy 2024 is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson 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 (Fellow, 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.