The Frankfurt Book Fair New York is closing at the end of the year. It had been open for 22 years. The news comes in the wake of the announcement last month that the Frankfurt Book Fair would be making changes, including layoffs.
"This step has become necessary as a result of the pandemic’s impact on the business of the Frankfurter Buchmesse this year and is part of the ongoing restructuring process at the Buchmesse," wrote Thomas Minkus, who served as president of the office, as well as vice president for emerging media and English-language markets of Frankfurt Book Fair and president of IPR License, in an email presenting the news this morning. Minkus, who worked with Frankfurt for 20 years, will be leaving the company.
The office, which was previously known as the German Book Office and rebranded as the Frankfurt Book Fair in New York in 2017, served a variety of roles, including selling exhibition space to North Americans and organizing North American literary agents to participate in the Literary Agents & Scouts Center (LitAg) at Frankfurt. These activities will be taken over by staff in Frankfurt and a new contact person will be named in the new year.
Last week, Riky Stock, the long-time director of the office, announced she will be taking a role as managing director of NorthSouth Books, the U.S. division of Swiss book publisher NordSüd Verlag starting in January. Other employees affected by the closing are key account manager Michelle Claußen and program manager Raquel Plitt.
In addition to activities directly related to the fair, the office was also responsible for assisting publishers with securing. book translation funding from the German government, running the German-language Festival Neue Literatur, organizing editor trips to Germany, promoting monthly book picks, helping present the Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for German literature, and running a variety of conferences. These activities will continue to be overseen by Frankfurt, in conjunction with the Goethe Institut in New York
The office was also home to Publishing Perspectives, the online news website sponsored by the book fair, which will continue to be run by publisher Hannah Johnson and editor Porter Anderson.
Following the news, Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair issued the following statement: “Like many other businesses Frankfurter Buchmesse has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result we have to restructure our business and are forced to make some painful and far-reaching staff cuts." He continued, "Thomas has led a strong team at the New York office, and he has played a vital role in managing our business in the English-speaking world. As the MD of IPR License, Thomas has played a pivotal role in growing this business and forming strong and important partnerships in China, USA and Europe."
Boos added that among those leaving Frankfurt as well is Holger Volland, vice-president of business development, who created the book fairs ARTS+ program and was with the fair for a decade. "They have each established valuable international relationships with colleagues around the world and have formed incredible networking groups which have been fundamental in driving the company forward," said Boos. "I would like to thank them both for their relentless energy, creativity and leadership. I will miss both as valued colleagues and as friends.“