Frontlist | Special edition of Frankfurt Book Fair gets thumbs-up
This year’s digital edition of the Frankfurt Book Fair has been viewed positively by the industry, with some events attracting more participants than in previous years, according to the fair’s organizer.
The 72nd Frankfurt Book Fair, which ran from Wednesday to Sunday, was relocated almost completely online due to pandemic concerns. The digital fair was “very well received” overall by the book and publishing industry, German news agency dpa quoted a spokeswoman as saying on Thursday.
During the special online fair, about 260 hours of talks, seminars, book readings and other programs were streamed online across multiple channels. Some 4,400 exhibitors from more than 100 countries and regions applied to participate in this year’s book fair, including over 120 from the Chinese mainland.
In an interview with daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung published on Friday, Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, said that the fair will ultimately benefit from its digitalization.
Citing the example of the all-digital Frankfurt Conference this year, an arm of the book fair devoted to publishing professionals, Boos says the conference was usually attended by about 200 people, but there were around 800 online participants this year.
According to Germany’s Ministry of Culture and Media, the German government has provided 2 million euros ($2.35 million) to support the Frankfurt Book Fair’s shift to a digital format.
Boos says he is not worried that the digital edition will make future on-site fairs less attractive. “Part of our business is creativity, and creativity is about encounters,” he says in the interview, adding that face-to-face conversations provide more room for spontaneity than those on the screen.
But the digital edition has been able to reach a new audience who will be interested in attending the Frankfurt Book Fair in the future, Boos says.
The pandemic has hit the global trade fair industry hard, with many fairs canceled during the early months of the outbreak. The Leipzig Book Fair, the second-largest book fair in Germany, was canceled just weeks before its scheduled opening in mid-March.
Boos says many international publishers he knew had a hard time at the beginning of the outbreak, since the book trade was affected by the pandemic lockdowns. “In the meantime, however, almost everyone has recovered,” he says. Sales remained mostly stable and younger people in particular bought books during the pandemic, he adds.