75 Times: “Frankfurter Buchmesse is an emporium of ideas. The intellectual exchange that it epitomises represents democracy’s crucial values.”
Autor Ian Kershaw
© Frank Hanewacker, Sedan Sieben
Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt has been an exhibitor at Frankfurter Buchmesse since its first edition in 1949.This year, the publishing house is presenting itself for the 75th time at the book fair in Frankfurt. Only a few publishing houses have never missed a Frankfurter Buchmesse and have been part of our history for 75 editions. To mark the occasion, we spoke to personalities who have left their mark on their publishing houses and the Fair.
Ian Kershaw has not only been associated with Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt for many years, but also with Frankfurter Buchmesse. As a historian, the author takes on a particularly exciting role when it comes to looking back at the history and looking forward to the future of Frankfurter Buchmesse.
This year, Frankfurter Buchmesse looks back on 75 eventful editions. What history connects you with Frankfurter Buchmesse? Is there a visit that has particularly impressed you?
My biography of Hitler and further works on modern German and European history have taken me on several occasions to Frankfurter Buchmesse. My first visit, in 1998 on the publication of volume 1 of the Hitler biography was especially memorable. Nothing had prepared me for the deluge of media attention that faced me. Interviews each day from early morning until late afternoon followed by an evening lecture, book signings and a meal amounted to a gruelling, but very rewarding, experience.
: Panel discussion with:Ian Kershaw, Prof. Dr Herfried Münkler, Ralph Bollmann, Weltempfang, Frankfurter Buchmesse 2016
© Nurettin Çiçek
How important is the relationship with your German publisher to you? Who accompanies you at events like Frankfurter Buchmesse? Which people shape your presentation at the fair?
My relationship with DVA has been of vital importance to me from the beginning and continues to be so to this day. I always enjoyed warm relations with all at the publishing house, in particular the editorial team and the publicists, who saw to it that I was extremely well looked after at the book fair.
What power does the medium of the book have today in an ever-changing society that increasingly relies on digital information content?
Early fears of the decline of the book have not been realised. The medium of the printed book remains highly influential in shaping opinion and co-exists without great difficulty with digital media rather than being replaced by them. The extraordinary success of book fairs (not just at Frankfurt) and literary festivals is demonstration of the continued popularity as well as importance of the printed book.
Which books have, in your point of view, had a significant impact on world events or even changed history?
The most important books in terms of their widespread and lasting historical impact over many centuries, and their ability to influence the world today, must surely be the Bible and the Koran. These central religious texts have had a direct or indirect importance in world history that extends beyond Christian or Islamic societies.
To what extent is Frankfurter Buchmesse a place of democratic exchange? And how can it influence political or social events?
Sometimes a book, or several books, might directly influence political or social development by highlighting, shaping or drawing attention to an issue that has current significance. But this is actually incidental to the crucial purpose of the book fair. Democracy depends upon tolerance, freedom of expression and a plurality of views. Frankfurter Buchmesse is an emporium of ideas. The intellectual exchange that it epitomises represents democracy’s crucial values.