Thursday, October 27, 2016

In review: Frankfurt Book Fair 2016

The New Zealand stand in Hall 6.0 at the Frankfurt Book Fair
The Frankfurt Book Fair remains the largest and busiest of the many book fairs that occur around the world annually. For many in the book publishing business, being at Frankfurt is the apex of their working year, none more so than literary agents and rights managers who battle it out to get their authors the best advances and print runs in overseas markets.

For New Zealand publishers the fair offers the chance to reconnect with colleagues and business partners from the seven seas. The collective stand organised by the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) and assistance from Creative New Zealand make it possible for smaller publishers to promote their authors at the fair – which this year grouped nearly 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 nations.

This year Oratia was able to squeeze 35 meetings into the three professional days from Wednesday to Friday – with a bit of overflow on the Saturday (the fair opens to the public on the weekend). Those encounters included international print and ebook distributors, fellow publishers, literary agents and scouts, booksellers, journalists and printers.

Wearing my industry hat as PANZ international councillor, I joined in association meetings with the fair organisers, had exchanges with other book fairs including Guadalajara, London and Taipei, and helped to manage the impressive New Zealand stand.

Our stand in Hall 6.0, among other English-language publishers, is impressive not just for its visual impact and size, but also for the camaraderie that brings exhibiting publishers together.

Some of the NZ crew
The Friday evening party, with excellent Kiwi wines generously sponsored by the New Zealand Embassy in Berlin, is regarded as one of the book fair's premium social events. This year’s was no exception, attracting an estimated 300 guests from around the publishing world.

But it’s all in the follow-up, as Frankfurt veterans will tell you. Now begins the long haul of sending sample copies and PDFs, talking page lengths and print runs and prices, in the hope that our authors and illustrators can reach an international readership.

After Frankfurt, though, those fortunate enough to attend can all make those sorts of decisions better, having shared with our peers among hundreds of thousands of books. This year the fair’s total visitor numbers were slightly up on 2015, at 277,000, with trade visitor attendance up +1.3% to 142,300 – testament to the continuing buoyancy of the global book industry.

– Peter Dowling
At the New Zealand stand party: Linda Cassells of Calico Publishing with Annabel Robertson, Second Secretary of the New Zealand Embassy in Berlin
Sam Elworthy of AUP (left) and Rod Fee of Eunoia Publishing epitomise the NZ team spirit by serving at the bar (Photo: Anton Blank)
At the New Zealand party

Friends and exhibitors at the party

Around the international halls

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