© Frankfurter Buchmesse
And the story goes on!
Frankfurt, 15 March 2023 – In 2023, Frankfurter Buchmesse will take place for the 75th time (18-22 October). What began in 1949 as a small exhibition with 205 German publishing houses in Frankfurt’s St Paul’s Church has grown over the decades into the world’s largest international book fair. Each year, authors, members of the publishing industry, players in the rights and licensing business, and high-profile guests from culture, politics and business from over 100 countries come to the publishing industry’s most important global gathering.
Frankfurter Buchmesse can look back on a dynamic and eventful history – one in which the fair has repeatedly expressed strong support for democracy and peace, even during times of worldwide political tension. A comprehensive chronicle of the book fair is released on 15 March 2023, commencing the activities to celebrate the 75th Frankfurter Buchmesse (18-22 October 2023). On the same day, the anniversary campaign “75th Frankfurter Buchmesse – And the story goes on...” is being launched on www.buchmesse.de and the book fair’s social media channels.
The eye-catching campaign, which will be present throughout the year online, in the media and in Frankfurt’s public spaces, recalls the fair’s new beginnings in the ruins of St Paul’s Church, which had been heavily damaged in the war. It revisits important historical controversies as well as major moments of democratic upheaval, documenting how some of the world’s leading thinkers and celebrities have been drawn to Frankfurt. In addition to the established and new literary voices who have showcased their books in Frankfurt, numerous acclaimed authors and public figures, such as Salman Rushdie, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mohsin Hamid and Olga Tokarczuk, have been speakers at the book fair. The chronicle shows German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer presenting his books, along with world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali and actress Diane Kruger promoting their publications, and the Dalai Lama and Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska attending the fair. Compelling pictures and concise texts celebrate Frankfurter Buchmesse’s history and its impact – but also what’s still to come, since “the story goes on!”
To mark the beginning of the “Freedom of Expression Week” (3-10 May 2023), organised by the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, the City of Frankfurt, Frankfurter Buchmesse and the German Publishers & Booksellers Association will be organising a joint event on Wednesday, 3 May, in Frankfurt’s St Paul’s Church.
A look at the chronicle at www.buchmesse.de/en/history shows that, right from the start, the book fair in Frankfurt was a major cross-cutting event influenced by economic, political and cultural trends. It was seen as a proving ground for intellectual and intercultural exchange, a role it has retained to this day. Policy makers, authors and creatives from the cultural industry use it to share their views on cultural policy and the world, and to inspire the public and reveal new perspectives. The topics addressed are diverse and always reflect current developments. As early as 1953, there were more international than German exhibitors at the fair, demonstrating the increasing cross-border networking taking place. In the 1960s, student protests drew attention to the fairgrounds, while women’s demands for greater equality became more audible in the following decade.
The 1980s and 1990s were all about the ongoing development of electronic media, not to mention the impact of the Cold War and Germany’s reunification. In 1999, 10 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Hungary presented its cultural achievements in Frankfurt – the first Eastern European country to do so. And the more important the global rights and licensing business became for the industry, the more important Frankfurt became as a marketplace, meeting point and hub.
At the beginning of the new millennium, the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 overshadowed the activities on the fairgrounds. In an atmosphere of uncertainty and reorientation, Frankfurter Buchmesse highlighted the relevance of intercultural dialogue and bridge-building, consciously assuming its responsibility as a politically relevant event.
In 2009, Frankfurter Buchmesse was subject to criticism due to China’s appearance as Guest of Honour. German Chancellor Angela Merkel forthrightly addressed this issue in her opening remarks, emphasising that even the People’s Republic cannot shy away from critical questions relating to freedom of expression.
In the 2010s, the rights and licensing business advanced in Frankfurt in multiple directions. Books, films, games, music, images, illustrations, even merchandising – all of these markets, which are crucial to the content business, became part of the fair. The main topic addressed in interviews, panel discussions and presentations continued to be digitalisation: e-books, enhanced e-books, apps, crowdfunding, fan fiction, 360° storytelling, social DRM, self-publishing, metadata, the agency model – the market’s professionalisation and transformation has meant that the book trade’s to-do list grows longer each year.
In 2017, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron came to the fair. In a memorable speech, the French president emphasised the power of diversity and proposed a Europe-wide educational offensive. He called for developing the vision of a culturally and politically united Europe. Afterwards the German chancellor and French president visited France’s Guest of Honour pavilion, where they jointly printed the first page of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on a reconstructed Gutenberg press.
And even now, after crisis-ridden Covid-19 years, Frankfurter Buchmesse continues to focus on today’s major issues: war in Europe, climate change, structural racism, freedom of speech, human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, diversity, digital transformation and much more. At a polarising time of international upheaval, the anniversary fair in 2023 will once again create a space for understanding and dialogue, sending important signals across the globe.
Chronicle of Frankfurter Buchmesse: www.buchmesse.de/en/history
The anniversary campaign has been created together with the agency Vier für Texas.
Contact for the media:
Press & Corporate Communication, Frankfurter Buchmesse, email@example.com
Dr Torsten Casimir, Vice President | Communications & Content, Phone: +49 (0) 172 286 3897, firstname.lastname@example.org
About Frankfurter Buchmesse
Frankfurter Buchmesse is the international publishing industry’s biggest trade fair and the most important international marketplace for content – from novels and children’s books to academic databases and stories for films, games and virtual reality experiences. Publishing professionals from around the world meet here with partners from the technology sector and from related creative and cultural industries, sparking new partnerships and business models. Since 1976, the book fair has featured an annual Guest of Honour country, which showcases its book market, literature and culture to attendees in a variety of ways. Frankfurter Buchmesse organises the participation of German publishers at international book fairs and hosts trade events throughout the year in major international markets. Frankfurter Buchmesse is a subsidiary of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers & Booksellers Association). https://www.buchmesse.de/en
Please find facts and figures about Frankfurter Buchmesse 2022 here: https://www.buchmesse.de/files/media/pdf/FBM_2023_FactsFigures_EN.pdf