After two straight years of modest gains in attendance in the professional segment of the Frankfurt Book Fair, the 2017 event was essentially flat, down just .02% from last year. Fair officials reported that total attendance, which includes the public visitors on the fair's closing day, was up by 3% over last year.
In all, some 286,425 visitors attended the fair, along with 7,300 exhibitors from 102 countries. That's up from 275,342 total visitors in 2016, and 281,753 in 2015.
In the fair’s professional program, the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair was marked by a sense of stability in the publishing industry. In his opening address, Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle suggested that “the global book business is doing better now than it has been for the past 50 years, and perhaps even since its inception,” citing among other things consistent, if slow, growth in many territories, and balance among print and digital formats.
Politics loomed large over this year’s event, amid a wave of rising nationalism in Europe. And on the fair’s public day on October 14, which usually features costumed fans visiting the fair for author readings and other programs, police this year had to break up clashes among protestors.
“This year we experienced physical altercations between left-wing and right-wing groups that had to be disbursed by the police,” acknowledged Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, in a statement. Boos added that fair organizers reject violence, but stressed that, as the organizers of the largest international trade fair for books and media, “we are obliged to uphold the fundamental right to free expression.”