From the moment Volker Neumann was appointed head of the Frankfurt Book Fair, American publishers found him a breath of fresh air. He immediately tackled the most irritating issue—the fair's high costs. He stood up to the hotels, managed to reduce increases in stand prices and shortened the fair by a day. Now comes the disappointing news that Neumann's contract will not be renewed. The board claims it wants a "long-term perspective." Our guess is that it wants the old perspective, with hoteliers and fairground owners free to continue price-gouging.
With the growing popularity of the London Book Fair and the efforts of BEA to attract more rights activity, Frankfurt needs to recognize that it is no longer the only game in town. Neumann tried to wake Frankfurt up to the need for a little customer service. Unfortunately, it seems the messenger is being blamed for the message.