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Felix Zeltner

© Helga Traxler

Felix Zeltner is a journalist and founder of Remote Daily, a company that brings people together virtually all over the world. He has received several awards for his work (e.g. Arte, ARD, Der Spiegel). He has lived in New York with his family since 2012. Felix Zeltner has been hosting the digital networking event "The Hof" for Frankfurter Buchmesse since 2020. On 25 May 2023, 5 p.m. CEST, the second The Hof Session in 2023 will take place. Interested parties can now register free of charge for "Ukraine and its resilient publishing scene" with Yuliia Kozlovets, the coordinator of the Book Arsenal Festival in Kiev, Ukraine. In the interview, Felix Zeltner gives tips for perfect video conferencing, among other things.


Hi Felix, what is currently stressing you out in your work with Frankfurter Buchmesse?

I love bringing people together - both virtually and in person. Working with Frankfurter Buchmesse, which has been successfully bringing people together for half a millennium, is a huge honor for me and our entire team. I don't find it stressful at all. On the contrary, I've met many people behind the scenes and admire how resilient and calm they are.

What was the best thing you experienced in New York over the past couple of days?

The talent show at our daughter's elementary school. At my school, almost everyone was white, and no one was allowed to just get up on stage and show off. Last Saturday, I spent two hours admiring dozens of children from all continents as they summoned their courage and did their best. A second-grader played the violin and then sang Katy Perry. A fourth-grader sat at the piano and performed "Feeling Good" so well that I thought Nina Simone was sitting there. And a boy got up on stage with his dad and sang a Justin Bieber song, a duet for their mom. Tears were flowing. Our daughter served as the show photographer and captured it all. Magic!

What are your learnings from the past years to positively impact digital formats like The Hof?

Many people find virtual meetings just as terrible as in-person meetings. The reason, in many cases, is that someone has copied a ritual from the physical world and pasted it into the virtual world. That almost never works. Video conferencing is a new medium with a new toolbox. I'll give you three examples of what this means for The Hof:

1. The hour is meticulously prepared and scripted, including the talk with the guest.

2. All participants are constantly engaged through questions in the chat, questions from the guest to the audience, requests to go off mute, or breakout rooms.

3. Music and mindfulness interrupt the spoken word with live, feel-good moments.

But above all, The Hof is teamwork. As a host, my duty is to create a virtual space for the guests and participants where they can enjoy themselves and have an open and honest conversation.

Who from the publishing industry do you dream of having as part of a The Hof session?

Some dreams have already come true: We mixed Caipirinhas with publishers in Brazil, created a huge party in Kuala Lumpur because the guests from there simply rented a hotel ballroom and held their own Hof event in parallel to the virtual one, and we also multiple times had guests join from the actual Hotel Frankfurter Hof, after which The Hof is named - for example legends such as Andrew Nurnberg, the world-renowned book agent. What makes me happy is when people from all corners of the world join, most of whom have never been to Frankfurt - and then they stay with us, because they have discovered a new, meaningful community.

What are you looking forward to at #fbm23 in October?

Encounters with all senses! The virtual meetings at The Hof are the perfect preparation for #fbm23. At The Hof, you become part of a global community and connect, regardless of location and time. At #fbm23, with all its power, you can take your connections to the next level. We are currently also working on an offering for The Hof community at the fair. I can't reveal more, but I am really excited about Frankfurt!

Thank you for the talk!

Meet the global publishing community at The Hof, on May 25th - sign up here!