Amonth before the official start of the 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair, which is set for October 20–24, its organizers remain hopeful that the event will go as planned. Reimagined with the health of its participants in mind, the fair will be a combination of in-person and online programming. Fair organizers have obtained a permit with specific protocols that include limiting daily attendance to 25,000. Attendees must have proof of vaccination, have recently tested negative for the virus, or have recovered from Covid-19 to gain entry to the fairgrounds. All attendees will be required to wear masks. All ticketing will be done online, and purchasers will be required to fill out a detailed registration form to facilitate contact tracing, should it be necessary.

Frankfurt Book Fair director Juergen Boos says the only thing at this point that will prompt a cancellation of the in-person events is a mandate from the government, which he doesn’t expect. Boos notes that with vaccination campaigns helping to contain the pandemic, the situation is much different than it was last year when the fair held an online-only show.

The fair is scheduled to welcome more than 110 organizations. There will be 41 national collective stands representing countries around the world. Canada, this year’s guest of honor, will have stands for both English- and French-language publishing sectors. Future guests of honor, namely Spain (2022), Slovenia (2023), and Italy (2024), will have their own large stands.

Organizers are aware that many usual attendees will stay home this year, and an online conference will run from October 11–15. The effort will include the two-day Frankfurt Conference and its various master classes, which will be sessions for sharing best practices and detailed expertise.

This year’s Hof season, designed to emulate the networking experience at Frankfurt’s favorite gathering places online, will include 15 new digital networking sessions and will begin on September 30 and be rolled out until mid-December. Participants will be able to mingle at the virtual bar, which will feature live music, and take advantage of breakaway rooms for business discussions.

Though the large U.S. publishers will have no formal presence at Frankfurt and U.S. agents have once again opted for online dealmaking, Boos points out that the fair will include a number of speakers from North America on its various programs. He also notes that last year’s virtual fair had a “considerable reach,” as people who can’t usually attend were able to watch various events. He expects the same level of North American engagement this year.

The USA Pavilion—normally one of the largest collective exhibits at the fair—will be at Frankfurt, albeit with a smaller contingent of publishers, distributors, and service providers than usual, according to Janet Fritsch, president of the American Book Collective, which runs it. Fritsch says as rates of vaccinations have increased, more people are willing to try an in-person fair. She also notes that the pavilion will be following all health and safety guidelines, and she is looking forward to once again connecting with the world—in person.

Below are other comments about why some USA Pavilion participants have decided to take the trip to Frankfurt:

"Bookazine is thrilled to be able to participate in our first in-person international event since Frankfurt 2019. It will be very exciting to see what silver linings the industry has brought to us all." —Cynthia L. Raiton, president of sales, Bookazine Co.

"We’re looking forward to being back in Frankfurt in person again and hope to catch up with as many existing customers as possible and to meet new ones." —Sharon Payne, director, rights and co‑editions, Fox Chapel Publishing

"We are very glad about this opportunity. It’s about visibility, and we are looking forward to meeting with our partners." —Cuno von Olenhusen, CEO, Hannecke Display Systems

"We look forward to meeting with old clients and prospective clients, from all regions of the world, and will be prepared to discuss the current challenges in the supply chain." —Susie Scally, director global sales, Meadows Wye and Co.

"The resumption of the Frankfurt Book Fair as a physical event is a very good thing. We are grateful for the continued representation by the American Collective Stand." —Greg Brandenburgh, associate publisher, Hampton Roads Publishing

Michael Seidlinger is a freelance writer in New York City.

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