In a statement today, the Frankfurt Book Fair touted the success of the recent all-virtual fair in October while acknowledging that lost revenue and the ongoing pandemic is forcing the fair to "modernize." Fair organizers plan to expand the virtual and multimedia options already on offer and said they expect next year's event to also return to having on-site stands.
The changes will result in some restructuring, the fair acknowledged. "It is already clear that the existing structures are to be streamlined, for example by merging departments," organizers of the fair stated through a press release issued this morning. "This will also involve job cuts."
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year's Frankfurt Book Fair, which officially ran October 14–18, was reimagined as an entirely virtual event. The fair usually hosts more than 300,000 visitors, but this year, because of the spread of Covid-19 across Europe, all in-person events were canceled. Instead, the organizers channeled several million euros in government support into producing a broad slate of online activities.
Today's release emphasized that over 200,000 people accessed the fair's professional multimedia through the fair's website, Buchmesse.de. Furthermore, programming for the fair's consumer-facing Bookfest attracted 1.5 million viewers on Facebook alone.
In October, fair director Juergen Boos told PW, the B2B conference program saw far higher numbers of people taking part than in the past. "We might typically have a few hundred people participating in the conference program and this year had nearly a thousand," said Boos. "Likewise, in the agents center we would typically have 700 to 800 agents working, but our digital Frankfurt Rights platform saw 4,165 people sign up."
Boos emphasized several times throughout this year that the fair would take the multimedia, digital and virtual platforms it has developed for both the professional and consumer sides of the fair and incorporate them into planning for the future.
Today's press release doubled-down on Boos's earlier statements. "In the future, the Book Fair's range of products and events will be increasingly supplemented by digital and virtual formats," said Alexander Skipis, general manager of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, which oversees the organization that runs the fair. "The valuable experience gained this year will be incorporated into the future concept of the Frankfurt Book Fair."
More information about the restructuring and new organization of the fair should be available by the end of the year.