The largest book event in the publishing calendar, the Frankfurt Book Festival, reopened its doors this year, with Canada as guest of honour. A comprehensive hygiene concept was in place with exhibitors and visitors attending upon proof of vaccination or negative Covid test. For additional safety the number of visitors was limited and exhibitors spaced apart.
The event was financially supported by the German Government, with German Minister of State and Culture Commissioner, Monika Grütters, releasing 4 million euros from the country’s NEUSTART KULTUR stimulus package. The aim of the funding was to enable as many exhibitors as possible from Germany and abroad to participate. Funds were also available to expand digital formats that allowed publishers to present their products and attend remotely.
Frankfurter Buchmesse used the funding to reduce this year’s exhibition stand fees, and when talking to exhibitors the discount, after a tough year, was a most welcome incentive.
Although there were significantly fewer exhibitors than in former years, those who attended felt the smaller event allowed unexpected opportunities. A small publisher said he had been able to make more business contacts and found the meetings more productive.
Other creatives commented that they were happy to be able to get places on free workshops which in previous years would have filled up early.
The Bologna stand, a must for children’s book enthusiasts, was a hive of activity brimming with Italian hospitality and flair. Bologna is considered the place that sets the trends for the children’s market. At the stand guest speakers, workshops and an exhibit titled ‘Italian Excellence’ showcased work from the finest new illustrators in Italy. ‘The Illustrator’s Survival Corner’ offered space for illustrators to attend training and portfolio reviews with highly respected Art Directors from Milan and New York.
Over the years I’ve made a point of visiting the exhibition by Latvia, having heard their industry experts speak a few years ago. ‘Proud To Be Introverts’ was the Latvian theme and a digital window inside a black and white house, recreated a wet day with digital raindrops tapping and running down the window. As in previous years the small country of Latvia was a stand out participator.
Missing from this year was the Cosplay Hall, which always brings a lot of fun and colour to the event. Nevertheless cosplay fans still turned up dressed as their favourite comic and book characters.
Exhibitors and visitors were confident next year will see a return to the big loud bustling format associated with the festival, but this year people enjoyed what was there, book lovers turned up and Saturday tickets for the public sold out.
Publishing Scotland was one of the virtual attendees this year.