Profiling the World’s Biggest Trade Book Fair

If there’s one trade event that every publishing professional is almost guaranteed to have marked on their calendars, it’s the Frankfurt Book Fair. In fact, it would be difficult to overstate its importance to the publishing industry. Often referred to by its German name, Frankfurter Buchmesse, this annual event is the industry’s pre-eminent book fair.
Moreover, the Frankfurt Book Fair can lay claim to being the biggest event of its kind in the world. According to its organiser, Frankfurter Buchmesse GmbH, the book fair attracts in excess of 7,000 exhibitors from more than 100 countries. Every year, over a quarter of a million attendees come to the event in order to buy, sell, learn and be inspired.
Also read: A preview and survival guide to Frankfurt Book Fair 2016
 

Birthplace of the European Publishing Industry

The Frankfurt Book Fair spans five days in mid-October; the precise dates change from year to year, but in 2016 it’s scheduled to take place from 19-23 October. It’s held at the enormous Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds in Frankfurt, one of Germany’s foremost cities.
The book fair’s location has considerable historical significance; Germany became the birthplace of the West’s publishing industry during the fifteenth century. Frankfurt is close to Mainz, the city in which inventor Johannes Gutenberg pioneered the production of affordable printed books in Europe, using a printing press and moveable type, in 1439.
Gutenberg’s efforts helped to make stories, works of scholarship and everything in-between widely accessible to ordinary people for the first time. Mass production of printed texts transformed the way people read, communicated and learned about the world. It also paved the way for countless publishing houses, booksellers and other businesses.
Then as now, German booksellers held book fairs celebrating the industry. The Frankfurt Book Fair, in its current form, began in 1949, but it has roots in a centuries-old tradition.
 

Stepping onto the Publishing Industry’s Global Stage

The book fair’s attendees are drawn from the full spectrum of the publishing industry, as well as related industries such as media and IT. Publishers, printers and literary agents rub shoulders with writers, illustrators, translators, journalists, software specialists and more.
By taking part in the Frankfurt Book Fair, you’re stepping onto a global stage, ready to exchange ideas and insights with likeminded individuals and organisations. The event is the ideal platform for promoting books and services, negotiating licensing deals, meeting new clients and keeping up-to-date with the latest developments in the world of publishing.
As the publishing industry has evolved, so too has the book fair. For example, the event has featured an area dedicated to self-publishing since 2013, while you can discover the ways in which digital technology is shaping education at the Classroom of the Future exhibition.
 

Combining Commerce with Culture

Although the Frankfurt Book Fair is primarily a business-orientated event, it’s important to emphasise that its scope isn’t limited to buying, selling and networking opportunities. The book fair’s exhibitions, talks and other events combine commercial and cultural interests.
Some aspects of its cultural offering are light-hearted, such as the Gourmet Gallery, where you can try international cuisine while discovering the latest recipe books. Others highlight social issues and the transformative power of literature; for instance, the event is involved with Books Say Welcome, an initiative that gives refugees access to a wide range of texts.
Moreover, each year since 1976, the event has invited a particular country to promote its literature as the ‘guest of honour’. This year’s honoured guest is Flanders & the Netherlands.
The Frankfurt Book Fair’s spirit is perhaps best embodied by the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, which has been awarded during the event every year since 1950. This international award honours writers who promote peace and co-operation.The book fair clearly recognises that publishers, writers and related professionals have the ability to bring down barriers – it’s truly a global gathering and meeting of minds.
Also read: A preview and survival guide to Frankfurt Book Fair 2016
 

About Ribbonfish – Solutions for the publishing industry

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