On a conference call with press on Tuesday, Frankfurt Book Fair director Juergen Boos once again reiterated that this year will feature a "special edition" of the book fair, which will be a hybrid virtual and real-world experience. The event is scheduled for October, with the pre-conferences and virtual conferences beginning on October 12 and the main fair running October 14-18.
Fortunately for the fair, it has received €2 million from the German government to support its efforts in developing digital products and experiences and a further €2 million euros to be used toward paying to host the fair. The latter money in particular is being used to reduce the cost of booth space and, presumably, will serve as a supplement from lost revenue due to the smaller number of attendees and reduced booth space.
Frankfurt has partnered with ARD, the main national broadcaster in Germany, to produce much of the digital side of the fair and its public-facing events. Audiences will be allowed in to see some events provided the health authorities make allowances and depending on the conditions of the pandemic.
The main announcements coming from Frankfurt this month were the branding of the this year's event, which will take place under the motto "All Together Now," as well as the Frankfurt Rights platform, which the fair promises will allow publishers to post catalogs and set up meetings. Access will be available starting in September and will be free for nine months. The organizers reiterated that there will also be the traditional LitAg, or literary agents center, on site.
Buchemesse.de, the fair's website, will serve as an online hub for the fair and will now offer content streams for tracks at the fair—such as Frankfurt Kids and Gourmet Gallery—with magazine-style content and hotlinkable ads. The fair's app will also be enhanced to allow for easier matchmaking between fairgoers, whether in the real world or the virtual one.
Virtual conferences at the fair will be thematically arranged by day, and will run from 9 to 11 a.m. ET each day, as follows:
- October 12: Academic and scholarly publishing
- October 13: Rights and licensing
- October 14: Publishing insights
- October 15: Audio
Frankfurt's plans have largely been met with enthusiasm among the international community, though many remain sceptical that the conditions will allow for any in-person events. Typically by this time of year, attendees will have most of their appointments booked, but many people appear to be reticent to commit to appointments. "Wait and see" seems to be the default position at this time.
One thing we know will not happen are the night time revelries that take place each evening at the Frankfurter Hof. But, said Katja Böhne, v-p of marketing and communications for the fair, some of her colleagues are working to find a virtual solution. "We want to make sure that you feel like you are at the fair," she said, "even when you are not at the fair."