Frankfurt Dispatches: Rosemary’s Recap of the Book Fair

We’ve got a recap of Frankfurt Book Fair courtesy of VP of Marketing and Sales Rosemary Carlough typing furiously on her Blackberry at Prague airport.

Another Frankfurt Book Fair ended on Sunday and our Rights Director has gone from Lost in Translation to Lost in Germany for a much deserved break. She will report on translation trends in a future blog post, but in the meantime I thought I would share an overview.

Hall Eight, the English language hall, was decidedly less full this year. Our stand has been J923 for a number of years now, and many of our neighbors have been the same—until this year. The stand next to us was gone, replaced by extra seating for tired feet. Another stand that had been near us for years also seemed to have disappeared, but then the company was discovered in a small shared space, clearly a cost-saving measure. The cafe areas also appear to have more seating than in previous years, another sign of less booth space sold.

On the other hand, the march of technology has moved to Hall Eight. Google has been in Hall Eight since it started coming a few years back, but this year there was an even bigger section of E-content folks and Hot Spots, where they could make presentations. And Code Mantra, which does our file conversion and digital asset distribution, moved to Hall Eight from Hall Four, something apparently they had wanted to do for years.

In addition to the changes brought by technology, there are also those brought by the ongoing consolidation in publishing. The British publisher Hodder & Stoughton had a huge booth, as did another British publisher with a host of imprints unknown to the Americans in our booth. PenguinPearson showed that they are one company with a back-to-back booths that were both enormous.

Simon and Schuster, always a bit off to the side, had the forthcoming Steve Jobs book by Walter Isacson, but the Bertelsmann booth had his picture smiling out at us in a much more traveled location.

While it’s perhaps clear by the quiet on the last of the five days that email and Skype have made face-to-face meetings less in demand, it’s also true that there really is no substitute for an in-person meeting at Frankfurt (or BEA, or in some cases London). And there are always a few discoveries. I’m always on the lookout for digital asset options and discovered a couple of new ones just walking the aisles. That in itself was interesting as Frankfurt is generally an appointment driven fair. So it was certainly a worthwhile trip.

In Hall Eight, Saturday and Sunday continue to be very quiet days. Many of the folks I met with were leaving late Friday or Saturday, although Therese was booked as usual for Saturday.

For readers who have not been to the Fair it’s important to point out that the public is allowed into the Halls on Saturday and Sunday. This does not generate much—if any—traffic in Hall Eight, but there were tour buses parked in the lots, so a shorter fair does not seem to be in the offing any time soon.

Auf wiedersehen!

Until next year!


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