Frankfurt Bookfair

Posted on September 6, 2006 in Uncategorized

What was the size of 14 football pitches, hosted 7,225 exhibits from 101 countries, had around 285,000 visitors and was crawling with 12,000 journalists? The Frankfurt Bookfair 2005! Joyce Aravena, Sales Director of the FBF for the past eighteen years, complete with PowerPoint presentation, hosted August’s Speaker Meeting, and terrified us with the magnitude of the fair!

The SYP were approached by Colman Getty, who publicize the FBF, as they felt it was important to make sure that people across the industry were up to speed on all that Frankfurt has to offer, and what’s new at the Fair this year. As attendees of the future, they felt the SYP was natural fit for this type of briefing, and were delighted with the SYPs enthusiasm.

Frankfurt BookfairEstablished over 500 years ago in the city where Gutenberg invented the first printing press (the first recorded fair being in the 15th century), Frankfurt is the oldest as well as the largest bookfair in the world. Germany, the UK and the US respectively have the largest number of exhibits (no surprises there), but with year round services and information, the FBF is the world wide market place for ideas, where an astonishing amount of deals are made from all corners of the earth.

The FBF has some special features that differentiate it from the LBF (as well as the two extra days to cover all the activities), such as:

  • The Guest of Honour Programme: Since 1988 a different country vies (and pays!) for the honour of being the FBF Guest of Honour, hosting a large exhibit displaying its literature and culture. The 2006 GOH will be India, which is timely considering India’s growing economy and flourishing publishing industry.
  • International Agents Centre for Adaptations & Screenplay: A specialised trading centre for literary film rights and screenplays, as the film industry relies more and more on books for ideas! It offers genre-based pitches and speed-dating sessions for rights traders and agents/producers.
  • Bookfair cinema: Seating for 400, for film premieres and previews. There are also two Forum Film & TV event rooms for panel discussions and presentations, for audiences of 100 or so.
  • Workshops: The FBF hosts several international workshops on current issues for trade visitors.
  • Education for the Future: A new education iniative has been created for the FBF 2006. Included will be LitCam, a literacy campaign, a panel discussion entitled (working title) Compulsory School Attendance – a Way to Escape Illiteracy?
  • Annual Conference: Starting in 2006, as part of the Education for the Future scheme, the opening day of the fair will hold a conference dedicated to a current issue of the day. This year it will be a discussion entitled India on the Rise, a discussion of the effect of India’s economic boom on its education

Although the FBF has a large attendance of non-industry book lovers wanting to know what’s out there (and see stars, will The Hoff be there?), the predominant activities of those at the fair are: making new contacts; renewing old contacts; trading rights and licences; image building and raising company profile worldwide and getting customers. Market observation and sussing out the competition are very important!

An area is designated for deals deals and more deals:  the Literary Agents and Scouts Centre (LITAG). Three hundred tables are for by appointment only sessions. This is a quieter, private area, not open to the public or press. There are also intensive seminars for those working in rights in publishing, as well as seminars for others in publishing: librarians; designers; IT specialists and printers etc. There are ‘centres’ for various aspects of publishing, such as: the International Bookseller and Trade Centre; the International Library centre; the Press centre; Illustration and design centre. No sector of publishing, or industries that support publishing, are left out! The German version of the SYP have a section to themselves with café, seminars, networking… They’re sponsored by the German Publishing Associates. We are pea-green with envy.

Joyce showed us the wonderful website for the FBF (, where you do everything from book your space, make an appointment with an agent or include yourself in a seminar. To see ‘the world in four days’ Joyce stresses, above all, wear comfortable shoes!

A statistic to end on: the journalists in the press centre drank 1,557.5 litres of water in five days – ten bath loads. What I’d like to know is how many bath loads of booze did they get through?