73,500 attendees from 105 countries make their way to the fairgrounds
The 73rd Frankfurter Buchmesse (20-24 October) sent an important signal for the cultural sector during the pandemic. Thanks to a comprehensive hygiene plan, trade visitors and members of the public were able to come together safely once again under the motto “Re:connect - welcome back to Frankfurt”. As the international book industry’s first major in-person event this year, Frankfurter Buchmesse 2021 reached 36,000 trade visitors from 105 countries and 37,500 private visitors from 85 countries. A total of 2,013 companies from 80 countries were present in the exhibition halls, at LitAg, at the new Workstations or as digital exhibitors online. A total of 2,500 media representatives from 39 countries were accredited for this year’s fair.
“After 18 months, Frankfurter Buchmesse represented a new start and, considering the travel restrictions in place around the world, it far exceeded our expectations. It just shows how resilient and creative our industry is. Many exhibitors and trade visitors expressed satisfaction at the quality of their interactions. Thanks to our digital programme for professionals, we were able to build a bridge to participants who were unable to travel this year,” said Juergen Boos, President and CEO of Frankfurter Buchmesse.
Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, chairwoman of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, said: “The joy of seeing people once again and the feeling of optimism were what made this year’s book fair special. The industry has emerged from the pandemic stronger than before and it used its time at the fair to engage in in-person interactions, exchange ideas on important industry topics and make new business contacts. Supported by a wide range of digital offerings, books were given a highly visible platform. In turbulent times, important social topics were also on the agenda. It thus also became evident that there are social issues which we have to – and will continue to – debate intensively, such as combatting racism and how to respond to extreme political positions in society and at book fairs.”
From Tuesday, 19 October, to Sunday, 24 October, 130,000 users availed themselves of the offerings on buchmesse.de. The livestream of the digital trade programme curated by Publishing Perspectives, Frankfurt Studio: Inside Publishing (27 sessions) was viewed over 15,500 times by people in 97 countries on the Frankfurter Buchmesse website alone. Frankfurt Studio Festival’s live German-language programme for the general public had already been seen over 5,200 times by midday on Sunday. In addition, a majority of the programming on both livestreams was also accessible on Facebook and YouTube. The content will be available in November in the media centre on buchmesse.de. The ARD Book Fair Stage streamed 46 hours of programming live, and Frankfurt Studio 44.5 hours. The in-person events at BOOKFEST city offered a total of 85.5 hours of programming.
The weekend programme featured Helen Macdonald, Colm Tóibín, Janina Kugel, Daniel Schreiber, Aminata Touré, Elif Shafak (joining remotely); Dany Laferrière and Asfa-Wossen Asserate on the Blue Sofa; Samira El Ouassil, Anastasia Zampounidis, Ulrike Folkerts, Rebecca Gablé, Florian Illies and Marc Elsberg at the Frankfurt Studio Festival; Johanna Adorján, Peter Licht and Terézia Mora in the detektor.fm podcast studio.
Guest of Honour Canada: “Singular Plurality – Singulier Pluriel”
The Guest of Honour Pavilion in the Forum, Level 1, was officially opened on Tuesday evening (19 October 2021) by Canada’s Governor General, Her Excellency Mary May Simon. Visitors can expect to make their way through an installation that features elements from the Canadian landscape: water, light, minerals, soil, mountains, air. The pavilion – the first in the history of Frankfurter Buchmesse to be accompanied by a virtual counterpart– showcases the creativity and diversity of Canada’s literary and cultural scene. A total of 60 Canadian authors and illustrators have given shape to the country’s literary programme – including eight outstanding literary figures who represented Canada in person in Frankfurt this year: Michael Crummey, Michel Jean, Dany Laferrière, Catherine Mavrikakis, Paul Seesequasis, Vivek Shraya, Kim Thúy and Nancy Vo. In addition to readings and interactive events involving these eight artists on the fairgrounds, over 50 authors participated in a wide range of digital events, including virtual appearances by Margaret Atwood and Joséphine Bacon at the opening ceremony. The programme not only showcased the Guest of Honour’s vastness, but also the diversity of its culture, languages and traditions. The exhibition “Books on … Canada” in the Guest of Honour Pavilion presented nearly 400 new titles on Canada from 165 publishers.
“We are proud to have had the opportunity to share our literature, art and culture with our German friends and the rest of the world. Canada is a land of diverse voices and we trust our Guest of Honour presence has highlighted our country’s Singular Plurality where we embrace and celebrate our differences. With our two years coming to a close, we end this unexpectedly extended chapter of the Frankfurt Book Fair and cannot wait to see what Spain has in store for next year.”
—The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage
Today, Canada’s two-year Guest of Honour appearance came to a festive conclusion in the Guest of Honour Pavilion. In a formal ceremony with Frankfurter Buchmesse President Juergen Boos, Caroline Fortin, chair of the Canada FBM2020/21 Guest of Honour Committee, handed over the GuestScroll to Maria José Gálvez, the Spanish government’s director general of Books and Reading Promotion.
Juergen Boos: “Canada’s appearance as Guest of Honour was special in many ways: it was the first appearance by a Guest of Honour that, due to the pandemic, took place over two years. In 2020, Canada presented the first purely digital appearance by a Guest of Honour country. And now, this year, the first hybrid appearance to take place virtually and in person. During this time, we have come to know a country with an exciting, unique diversity. In keeping with Canada’s motto “Singular Plurality – Singulier Pluriel”, we’ve heard a multitude of voices in recent days that have revealed the country’s cultural richness and its diversity. We’ve seen a remarkable pavilion that skilfully showcases virtual and in-person offerings and highlights Canada’s landscapes using an artful installation. From the far north, we now look to southern Europe, to Spain: a country whose “Spilling Creativity – Creatividad desbordante” is also expressed through a multitude of languages. We would once again like to thank the Spanish Guest of Honour Committee for agreeing to postpone its appearance at Frankfurter Buchmesse for one year. And we look forward to getting to know a country whose multilingualism is undoubtedly still unknown to many German readers.”
"Freedom of expression and publication are, for us, paramount."
The past few days have clearly shown how Frankfurter Buchmesse reflects and reinforces current social debates. At over 100 events on the Blue Sofa, on the ARD Book Fair Stage and at the Education Forum, discussion participants from many disciplines expressed their views on subjects such as anti-racism, anti-discrimination, gender issues and freedom of speech.
An author’s call to boycott the book fair due to the presence of a “New Right” publishing house divided the public and the online community, raising questions such as: Where should an organiser like Frankfurter Buchmesse draw the line in terms of which publishers are admitted? Where does freedom of speech end and censorship begin?
“We deeply regret that certain authors decided not to come to Frankfurter Buchmesse. Together with our partners, we put together an extensive and diverse programme in order to present many different perspectives. The voices of these authors were missing.” said Boos.
“International book fairs thrive on a diversity of opinions and content, and on an exchange among equals,” he said. “People now regularly call for censorship and the exclusion of certain content or companies – as was the case this year. Two principles have always applied at the book fair: freedom of expression must not be restricted beyond the limits set by the state, which means, in terms of admitting exhibitors, in dubio pro libertate; and security during the fair must be guaranteed at all times to the greatest extent possible, so that each and every individual can feel free and safe to visit the fair. As the organiser of the largest international book fair, we are strongly opposed to our events being instrumentalised. For us, freedom of speech is not negotiable.”
All the talks that took place on the ARD Book Fair Stage during the fair will be available in the ARD media centre. All detektor.fm interviews will also remain accessible as podcasts, and the Frankfurter Buchmesse YouTube channel will feature a wide range of content from the fair.
The 74th edition of Frankfurter Buchmesse will take place from 19-23 October 2022.