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An annual tradition in publishing: the Frankfurt Book Fair

Every year, for the past 14, we have attended the Frankfurt Book Fair, which takes place in October in Frankfurt, Germany. If you’ve never attended the “Frankfurter Buchmesse,” it is difficult to paint a picture of just how gigantic this event is. This is the largest trade fair for books in the world.

It has been an annual event going back over 500 years to 1454, soon after Gutenberg invented the printing press, when the first book fair was held by local booksellers. It has evolved into the event for negotiating international publishing rights and license fees, and is surrounded by technology companies and other vendors to the industry who are able to do business with many publishers, authors, librarians, and agents in a short span of time.

AdvantageCS participates in two important pre-meetings to the fair, which are as dependable as the fair itself in the yearly rhythm of business life: the Frankfurt meeting of the International Committee on EDI Standards (part of EDItEUR) on the Monday prior to the fair’s opening, and the STM (Scientific/Technical/Medical) annual Frankfurt meeting on Tuesday. Both of these meetings address serials publishers in addition to book publishers, so Frankfurt is not exclusively aimed at book publishers, though that is the main thrust. As participants in these pre-meetings, we have usually met with or bumped into dozens of clients, consultants, and friends in the industry before the fair even begins on Wednesday.

The fair itself, which runs from Wednesday through Sunday (the weekend is for the public to attend), takes place at the Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds which is located in the middle of the city of Frankfurt and covers 5 halls, each the size of a major convention center in any large city, all connected by moving sidewalks and escalators.

In 2016, there were over 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries seen by over 275,000 visitors. Amazingly, despite the huge numbers, you can run into people you know in the hallways. Publishing, even internationally, is a small world.

Because there are so many publishers, consultants, and technology partners in attendance, we can have an astonishing number of meetings in just a few days in Frankfurt, not to mention networking dinners with colleagues and industry friends. We can catch up with our prospects, clients, and partners and in a very short time and learn more than we could in the course of many weeks in our offices at home.

Of course, once in Germany, why not get out of Frankfurt and enjoy what Germany has to offer? I have been known to travel to Bonn for dinner (on the fast train) and last year visited a friend up the Rhine river, which is fertile wine country, where I felt increasingly thirsty as I got closer to my destination staring out the window at the vineyards!

This is the beginning of the trade show season for us, and, in fact, this year, Frankfurt, FIPP’s World Magazine Congress, and the Folio Show all coincided in the same week. We have 5 more trade events between now and the end of the year, so we’ll be ready to spend a little time at home for Christmas when it finally arrives.


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