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Frankfurt powers on

9 October 2006

Last week saw the Frankfurt Book FairWorld's largest trade fair for books; held annually mid-October at Frankfurt Trade Fair, Germany; First three days exclusively for trade visitors; general public can attend last two., the giant publishers' convention which is the world's largest book fair. Around 280,000 people (including many members of the German public), and 7,200 exhibitors from 100 countries went to Frankfurt, using the Fair to showcase more than 380,000 books.

The Frankfurt Book Fair ran from 4th to 8th October, drawing in publishers from all over the world flocking to it to do business with their international counterparts. Essentially this is a rights fair and the 20th International Right Meeting which preceded it had as its theme 'Everything is Negotiable: Focus on the English-Speaking World and the Complexities of the English Language Market'. The inaugural award of the Frankfurt Book Fair Rights Professional of the Year went to the much liked and highly respected Susan Howe, Rights Director of Orion in London.

The Fair had a new focus on major global issues, such as 'Education for the Future' and the new Frankfurt Book Fair Literacy Campaign, with discussion also of the issues relating to digitisation, Internet piracy and copyright. The international flavour was extended by the choice of India as Guest of Honour, the first time a country has been accorded the honour twice. But what a difference from 20 years ago, as India comes of age with its billion citizens, 80,000 new books published each year, 24 official languages and vibrant growth. The need still to focus on education and literacy in India, as in many other countries, shows how urgent these campaigns still are for the global book world.

The Frankfurt Book Fair has also spread its wings internationally this year. Its intervention in London is widely seen as having secured publishers the central London location they wanted for Reed's London Book Fair, and publishers will be grateful to be spared the journey to Dockland's Excel in the spring. In June Frankfurt's inaugural Cape Town Book Fair had 2,000 visitors and instantly became the biggest book fair on the continent (see News Review 3 July Celebrating Africa).

But what of Frankfurt itself and the big deals which are what the Fair is traditionally all about? There were less of these actually negotiated at the Fair, as publishers kept their editors under strict control, but some choice deals were announced. From Stephen Hawking there's The Grand Design and a children's series for the 9+ age group to be written with Hawking's daughter Lucy. A book on Natascha Kampusch's extraordinary story will be of great interest, and Baghdad hostage Norman Kember has chosen small religious publisher Darton Longman & Todd to publish his memoir.

But for most publishers it was solid business across a range of titles, with a full timetable of intense short meetings across the five days of the Fair. Many will have gone home with full order-books and much business to be concluded by email, following up on the Fair which still dominates the international rights calendar.

Inside Publishing: The Frankfurt Book Fair

International Book Fairs 2006