With India as the guest country and attendance from China double that of recent years—plus large growth in delegations from Thailand and Taiwan—the signal from the Frankfurt Book Fair is clear: in global publishing, Asia is a major force.
India, which is the first country to return as a guest of honor, is bringing more than 150 publishers and 70 authors to the 2006 fair. "80,000 new books are published in India each year," marvels Frankfurt boss Juergen Boos, adding, "India is of great interest both as an emerging market and key player in publishing and book production." In all, 7,000 exhibitors from 111 countries are expected in Frankfurt October 4-8.
This is the first show with Boos, who took over little over a year ago, completely in charge, and he makes it clear that his aim is to put his footprint on an event that, for the past few years, hit the headlines more often over internal squabbles or failed ambitions than for its performance. So it was time to innovate, he says: "It is important that we constantly reinvent ourselves and come up with attractive offers for exhibitors and visitors."
Among the new offerings is the "Education for the Future" initiative, focusing on the "intrinsic link" between education and the book industry. The centerpiece of the new effort—one Boos says will be a "long-term project"—is the Frankfurt Book Fair Literacy Campaign, which will open with a summit conference bringing together literacy experts from around the world. "The aim of this international campaign is to highlight the need for basic education and literacy with public and key opinion leaders," Boos says.
Another new conference on the opening day will discuss "India on the Rise," bringing together writers such as Amitav Gosh with digital entrepreneur Narayana Murthy of Infosys in Bangalore.
Put altogether, Frankfurt is expecting a record year. "All 13 hall levels are booked," Boos says, which results in an overall growth of 3.5% in rented space, with U.S. publishers taking 5% more space than last year.