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Opening Press Conference with Olga Tokarczuk, Nobel Laureate in Literature, and Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO / 7,450 exhibitors from 104 countries expected

The 71st Frankfurter Buchmesse (16-20 October 2019) will take place against the background of global political and social upheaval. Concern about the world’s situation given the threat of an imminent climate catastrophe, and in view of the growing power of antidemocratic forces, has produced a new generation of activists. Their ranks include authors whose novels, nonfiction, biographies and poetry are inspiring and galvanising people worldwide. At the same time, our data-driven digital age has acquired new dimensions: the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence and the trailblazing progress being made in all areas of research are harbingers of disruptive developments that herald a new chapter in human history. 

As the largest international meeting point for an industry defined by content, ideas and stories, Frankfurter Buchmesse addresses these developments. At the Opening Press conference held today, Frankfurter Buchmesse’s Director Juergen Boos called on the sector to maintain its traditional role in a time of radical transformation. “The book and media industry has a responsibility to analyse, evaluate and critically question the paradigm shifts which are defining the 21st century”, he said. “The international publishing industry represents a diversity of perspectives and opinions – a diversity that must be protected. We need authors who call out injustices, offer resistance and take risks as a result. And we need publishers who engage with this content and find appropriate formats for it – publishers committed to quality, accuracy and credibility.”

Heinrich Riethmüller, President of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, said: “The industry is aware of its important social responsibility. It wants to launch and shape debates about the pressing issues of our time, including globalisation and digitalisation, protecting the environment and climate, migration, and developing our democracies. In doing so, publishers and booksellers are holding their own in the increasingly competitive media landscape. They are successfully creating new possibilities for bringing readers and books together.” 

Guest speaker Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), addressed the challenges faced by the intellectual property system in the context of the publishing industry. The topic is crucial for a publishing industry financed by copyrights, he said. In his remarks, Gurry outlined new business models compatible with a data-driven digital economy.

A special guest put in a surprise appearance at the Frankfurter Buchmesse Opening Press Conference: Olga Tokarczuk, recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature, who spoke about the political responsibility that authors have. In her novels, the Polish author addresses the aftereffects of European and Jewish history, a topic that has proven controversial in her native country. A former contributor at the left-wing journal Krytyka Polityczna, the trained psychologist is also politically active.

With CREATE YOUR REVOLUTION, Frankfurter Buchmesse is putting a spotlight on culture by providing a platform for people who are responding to today’s challenges with creative solutions and revolutionary ideas. As the backbone of society, culture provides guidance and a sense of belonging; it creates the framework for intercultural exchange, thereby shaping a future that is vibrant and hopeful. CREATE YOUR REVOLUTION is the result of a partnership between the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, the United Nations, THE ARTS+/B3, ARTE and Spreadshop. Participants in the initiative include numerous activists, artists and others, such as Luisa Neubauer, Igor Levit and Ai Weiwei. For more information: in a new window)

A total of 7,450 exhibitors from 104 countries are expected to attend Frankfurter Buchmesse 2019.

Other focus areas at Frankfurter Buchmesse 2019

Guest of Honour Norway: “The Dream We Carry”

Cultural abundance, freedom of expression and sustainability will be the key topics addressed during Norway’s time as Guest of Honour in Frankfurt. HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway will serve as patron for the country’s activities at Frankfurter Buchmesse. More than 100 Norwegian authors will present their books at the fair, providing insights into Norwegian literature and society. Some 500 book titles – including Norwegian literature in translation and books about Norway – will be released by 217 German-language publishers by the end of 2019 (counted as of autumn 2018). The exhibition “Books on Norway” organised by Frankfurter Buchmesse presents over 650 titles from 30 countries. It includes translated works by Norwegian authors and books about Norway from various genres. Press kit on Guest of Honour Norway: in a new window) 

Weltempfang 2019: “Anthropocene – The Last Age?”

Melting glaciers, burning forests, mountains of refuse, microplastics: the impact humans are having on nature is unmistakable – all around the globe. Once at the mercy of nature, we are now the driving force behind the planet’s transformation. With more than 40 events on the stage and in the Salon, Weltempfang (Hall 4.1 B 81) will shed light on numerous aspects of the Anthropocene. Renowned speakers from the political and cultural spheres will discuss their views, including environmental activist Luisa Neubauer, national chairman of ALLIANCE 90/THE GREENS Robert Habeck, sociologist and social psychologist Professor Harald Welzer, Professor Rita Süssmuth and international authors such as Maja Lunde, Elif Shafak, Jean-Baptiste Del Amo, Luiz Ruffato, Gioconda Belli, Mercedes Rosende, Bonnie Greer and Patrick McGuinness.

New subject areas: Frankfurt Audio and Frankfurt Authors

The concept of subject areas has been further developed, after the successful introduction in 2018 of the international areas Frankfurt EDU (Halls 3.1 and 4.2) and Frankfurt Kids, the area for children’s and young adult media (Hall 3.1 and Foyers 5.1/6.1). In 2019, two new areas are being added: Frankfurt Audio (Hall 3.1) and Frankfurt Authors (Hall 3.0).

Audio is one of the media industry’s fastest growing segments worldwide. Frankfurt Audio is therefore putting a spotlight on the world of audio books, podcasts and smart speakers. The new area will allow visitors to experience in one central location the latest trends relating to audiobooks and podcasts. Covering more than 600 square metres, Frankfurt Audio Area will bring together German-language audiobook publishers and international streaming platforms, among many others. A first-rate programme for players from the publishing and audio sector will be complemented by events featuring renowned authors, audiobook narrators and podcasters. A number of speakers will present their new audiobooks, including Melanie Raabe, bestselling author and driving force behind the successful podcast series “Der Abgrund” (The Abyss), author and storyteller Rafik Schami, the author duo known as Iny Lorentz, Sascha Lobo and DJ legend Talla2XLC. The front woman for the Berlin-based electropop band MIA, Mieze Katz, will be joined by RollingStone journalist Ralf Niemczyk to interview bestselling author Rita Falk and many more.

Creating a space all about writing – that’s the idea behind the new Frankfurt Authors Area. The area is the further development of what used to be the Self-Publishing Area – with a new stage, signing area and lounge, as well as a trade programme and networking events with numerous guests, including Melanie Raabe and Sascha Lobo. Also new are the opportunities authors will have to present their works, and the day-long focus on specific genres. The programme on Friday, for example, will be devoted to crime novels and thrillers. On Saturday the topic will be romance, and on Sunday fantasy.


A first for Frankfurter Buchmesse: As part of BOOKFEST, award-winning writers will come together during an international literary gala on Saturday, 19 October 2019, at 7.00 pm (Room Harmonie, CMF). Margaret Atwood, Maja Lunde, Elif Shafak and Colson Whitehead will talk about their new books with moderators Bärbel Schäfer from broadcaster hr and Thomas Böhm from broadcaster radioeins. Excerpts from the German versions of the presented works will be read by Bela B Felsenheimer and Nina Petri. Ken Follett will also be in attendance, presenting his Friendship Tour campaign.

At over 50 events in Frankfurt’s city centre and almost 30 happenings at the fairgrounds, BOOKFEST 2019 will offer a multifaceted programme with numerous speakers, including Samantha Cristoforetti, Thomas Gottschalk, The Lochis, Nele Neuhaus, Jo Nesbø, Sophie Passmann, Peter Schilling, Rita Süssmuth, Thees Uhlmann, Max von Thun, Ulrich Wickert and Peter Wohlleben. Frankfurter Buchmesse’s international festival for literature, stories and ideas will provide visitors with extraordinary experiences in special settings. On all five days of the fair, guests can enjoy poetry slams, tastings, parties, concerts, panel discussions, presentations and cooking events at over 20 locations in the heart of Frankfurt.

New location for Literary Agents & Scouts Centre (LitAg)

This year, the meeting point for agents is moving to a new location in the Festhalle.
A total of 346 agencies and publishing houses from more than 30 countries will be represented at the Literary Agents & Scouts Centre (LitAg) and in the Publishers Rights Corner. The majority of agencies attending the fair will come from the US (80 agencies) and the UK (67 agencies).

Innovation and international appeal: THE ARTS+ and B3

For the first time, THE ARTS+ is partnering with B3 Biennial of the Moving Image: Frankfurter Buchmesse will be the site of the acclaimed B3 exhibition, which includes films, media, games and technology-based installation art. Both festivals will offer a wide-ranging programme of conferences and onstage events. 

The press kit of Frankfurter Buchmesse 2019 can be downloaded here: in a new window)