Association of American Publishers president Pat Schroeder is making a last-ditch effort to convince Frankfurt Book Fair organizers to let English-language attendees take Friday evening off.
In a letter sent last week to fair president Volker Neumann, Schroeder wrote, "We deplore your decision (apparently made without consulting U.S. publishers) to force English-language publishers, under threat of financial penalty, to keep their stands open late in the evening" to accommodate the public. The requirement that publishers keep their stands open until 8:30 p.m. on Friday, October 10, has been a source of contention for months. Schroeder said she has been having discussions with fair organizers since winter, but with no success.
"When I've pursued this with Frankfurt, there is this attitude that this would be good for English-language publishers and they just don't know it," she said. The later hours mean publishers must either hire workers to sit in the booths or force members of their own staffs to stay. "The wear and tear on people—these are long, tedious days in a windowless room," Schroeder said.
Schroeder also plans to enlist the support of publishing groups in the U.K., Canada and Australia in the campaign to repeal the extended-hours requirement for stands in Hall 8, which will house the English-language publishers. Though the fair is less than a month away, Schroeder said it's not too late for the change. "All they have to do is lock the doors on Hall 8," she said.
The extended Friday opening was among the issues cited by Holtzbrinck USA in deciding to drastically reduce the number of employees it was sending to the fair. The one-week stay hotels are requiring remains a bigger issue, but Schroeder said there's little U.S. publishers can do about that, other than cut back on the number of people they send to the fair.