The Frankfurt Book Fair returns Wednesday to Sunday, October 19–23, with two and a half days dedicated to professional events for publishers and two days solely for the general public. More than 4,000 exhibitors from 85 countries are registered. Seventy national stands will showcase publishers and books from around the world, and the Literary Agents Center’s 450 tables are sold-out.
“We expect there to be much the same feeling as there was at the fair before the pandemic,” says Frankfurt Book Fair director Juergen Boos, who estimates attendance will be 70% of that of 2019. “While many publishers have adapted to doing business digitally, people seem to need to be in Frankfurt to meet face-to-face.” The German government, which continues to support the fair with financial subsidies it began providing in 2020, has lifted restrictions demanding mask wearing and social distancing and, Boos adds, no new mandates will be imposed, provided there is no obvious crisis.
This year’s book fair is focusing on the topic of translation. “It is the only way for words to make their way out into the world and is the basis for the rights and licensing business and for understanding between cultures,” Boos notes.
Hall allocations are much as before, with U.S. and U.K. publishers in Hall 6, international publishers in Halls 2 and 4, and German publishers in Hall 3. As a result of the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions in China, Chinese publishers will not be attending the fair. Russian publishers will also be absent, in accordance with the decision made early this year to exclude the country’s national stand following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. To support the Ukrainian publishing industry, more than 30 Ukrainian publishers will be attending the fair, while several dozen Ukrainian authors, illustrators, and other professionals will be featured in more than a dozen events highlighting publishing from the now war-torn country. Ukrainian author and musician Serhij Zhadan will be awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade during the fair.
Numerous top publishing executives will be on hand, including Michael Tamblyn, CEO of Kobo, and Ashleigh Gardner, senior v-p, managing director global publishing of Wattpad WEBTOON Studios; both will be interviewed in the Global 50 CEO Talk 2022, organized by Austrian publishing consultant Ruediger Wischenbart. Transforming Diversity, a new half-day children’s book conference on October 19, will feature Peter Warwick, the president and CEO of Scholastic, as a keynote speaker.
Some minor changes to the fair are being implemented. The public will be admitted starting on Friday, marking a change from when Friday was reserved exclusively for professionals; there will be no livestreaming of events, as there has been in the past two years, though events will be recorded; and once again exhibitors will have no central area like the former Business Club to congregate, but “hot desks” will be situated throughout the fair, which can be reserved. The Hof, a series of fireside chats at the Frankfurter Hof hotel, has already begun streaming and will continue during the fair. The Frankfurt Bookfest, the fair’s consumer-facing book festival, also returns and will feature well-known authors including Jarvis Cocker, Sebastian Fitzek, Donna Leon, and Leïla Slimani for readings, interviews, and books signings for the public.
African publishers sponsored by the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund will have a dedicated collective stand, and seminars focusing on book industries and promotion of reading in various African nations are planned. TikTok will host its own stage in the Agora, and the Frankfurt Audio area will feature international audiobook companies such as Beat Technology, Bookwire, and Spotify.
The guest of honor country is Spain, and the king and queen of Spain are expected to attend the fair’s opening ceremony. The motto for the guest of honor program is “Creativity Overflowing,” and to that end the fair will offer events focusing on sustainability, bibliodiversity, digital creativity, and the cultural bridge and bond between Spain and Latin America. In all, Spain will bring a group of some 200 writers, translators, illustrators, publishers, literary agents, booksellers, and distributors. “We wanted all those who are part of the book ecosystem to be present,” says Elvira Marco, who is organizing the program for Spain. Featured events will include discussions with authors Kiko Amat, Fernando Aramburu, Elizabeth Duval, Sara Mesa, Rosa Montero, Christina Morales, and Antonio Muñoz Molina, among others, as well as tributes for publisher Jorge Herralde, agent Carmen Balcells, and authors such as Almudena Grandes and Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
An online translation portal called Books from Spain was launched to coincide with the guest of honor program and featured 100 Spanish publishers, each promoting five titles to be translated. The result is that between 2019 and the start of this year’s fair, more than 400 titles will have been translated into German from Spanish.
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