At the official opening press conference for the Frankfurt Book Fair today, show director Juergen Boos noted that “the economic crisis has also left its mark on the Book Fair: particularly our colleagues from the English- speaking world have reduced exhibition space due to economic developments. Eastern European exhibitors are also not present in the same numbers as last year.” But overall exhibition space is down just 2 percent this year, and Boos told the Fair’s own Publishing Perspectives more bluntly, “If you’re talking about an economic crisis, then you have to talk about an economic crisis hitting American and UK publishers alone.” The Fair is expecting approximately 180,000 trade visitors from around the world, even if fewer editors and executives and from the US, drawing from just over 4,000 exhibitors outside of Germany.
Amusingly, in talking about Frankfurt as “a marketplace for ideas and tomorrow’s
bestsellers,” Boos invoked “Jonathan Littell and his novel The Kindly Ones – which two years ago at the Book Fair gave rise to a frenzied fight over publishing rights.”
President of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association Gottfried Honnefelder confirmed that locally, sales in the German market are up 2.8 percent compared to a year ago, and “we can therefore look forward to the final months of the year with confidence, as 2009 will not be a year of economic slump for bookshops and book publishers.” Honnefelder also added the requisite Google-bashing.
Separately, Agence France Press notes that dissident Chinese poet Bei Ling addressed a press conference held by The International Society for Human Rights. “We have another voice, this underground literature voice, underground poetry” to present, Bei said. He and his colleagues want to make sure the “official writers voice” of China is not the only one heard during the fair.
Yesterday Kathrin Schmidt won the German Book Prize for her semi-autobiographical novel YOU’RE NOT GOING TO DIE. (The book is not currently available in English.)