The Frankfurt Book Fair (which runs October 19–23 this year) will always be a book fair. But as technology has presented new opportunities for publishers, authors, and creators, the fair’s organizers have smartly expanded its professional program over the past decade to bring in other sectors of the creative economy, including film, games, and now the art world. For 2016, the Frankfurt Book Fair has partnered with media entrepreneur and art collector Christiane zu Salm to launch a new platform called the Arts+ that will bring speakers and attendees together in Frankfurt to discuss “new business models and synergies” between the arts and technology.
“While the book fair has traditionally focused on books, our expansion into film, television, gaming, and now fine arts and architecture shows the fluidity of the creative world,” says Frankfurt Book Fair v-p Holger Volland Volger. “Just like with music, film, and literature, the fine art world is being disrupted. From the sharing economy impacting art ownership to the types of art that is being created, the cultural market is in flux and the merging of art and technology is forging a new future.”
The Arts+ platform will feature a one-day program on October 19, with a range of speakers, including a keynote interview with legendary British artist David Hockney. In addition, the Arts+ platform will occupy some 2,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, where visitors will be able to experience virtual reality and 3-D art, learn more about digital platform providers, and attend workshops, labs, and presentations that will run throughout the fair.
Over a decade that has included a global recession and an ongoing digital revolution, the Frankfurt Book Fair’s willingness to engage many creative sectors and to reorganize parts of the fair appear to paying off. Attendance at the 2015 fair actually rose modestly over 2014, about 2.3%, and Frankfurt Book Fair director Juergen Boos said 2015 was “the busiest and most successful book fair in years.”
In 2016, global challenges remain, but there is again cause for optimism. Last year, fair organizers took a bit of a gamble by closing Hall 8, the traditional home of English-language publishers, moving them to a new space in Hall 6. But the move came off without a hitch and was very well received: not only did it put English-language publishers closer to the Literary Agents & Scouts Centre (LitAg), reducing the time spent trekking to meetings, but it infused the fair with energy and led to more chance meetings in the aisles by attendees. “Exhibitors from all the different regions told me the same thing time and again in our personal talks,” Boos said of the fair’s restructuring—that the move strengthened “a feeling of togetherness” in the industry.
Now in its third year, the Frankfurt Business Club has also hit its stride. After a nice jump in attendance over 2014, the club’s uneven first year, attendees gave the 2015 experience mostly positive reviews. Frankfurt organizers are expecting an even better experience in 2016. The Business Club offers fairgoers a premium experience, including a program of exclusive events, and a comfortable place to conduct business, especially vital for attendees who want to explore opportunities with publishers but don’t need a booth on the show floor.
The prefair opening conference—the Markets (which replaced ConTec in 2014, and prior to that, Tools of Change)—will also be back, on October 19, showcasing publishing markets from seven regions around the world. And after a yearlong hiatus, the Publishing Perspectives stage is also back, featuring a full slate of short, engaging talks with movers and shakers in the publishing world.
Of course, rights remain the lifeblood of the Frankfurt Book Fair. And after record participation in a redesigned LitAg in 2015, Frankfurt organizers say all 460 tables are again sold-out. In addition, the fair in 2016 is offering a workspace for publishers. The Publishers’ Rights Corner will be located immediately next to the LitAg and will be open to the staff of rights departments on October 18 for meetings with editors and publishers.
For more information and specific programs, check out the Frankfurt Book Fair website—and once again, you can follow all the action from Frankfurt through PW’s show dailies, available in print at the show, as well as on the PW website.
Essay collections from Trevor Noah and Gay Talese, the debut novel from Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, and a new adult thriller from Stephenie Meyer are among the big titles being shopped at Frankfurt.