The Joy of the Frankfurt Book Fair

November 1998
by Nick Weir-Williams, Northwestern University Press

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The world of book publishers is divided between those who hate book fairs/conventions in general and those, like me, that look forward to them fervently, especially the Frankfurt Book Fair each October. There are many start-up publishers for whom the expense of these fairs is enormous in comparison to the rest of their marketing budget, so it’s worth considering the likely benefits very carefully before you make your decision. It is my hope that this article will help.

The first year I was in publishing, I went to Frankfurt for a couple of days. For a British academic publisher who exported 70% of our books, Frankfurt was a necessity, and I was there to learn the ropes.

The first thing you learn is that you either stay way out of town in some rustic German setting near the Main River (or near an autobahn if you’re less well prepared) at a reasonable price, and make a considerable commute; or get one of the prized rooms in the middle of the less than prepossessing city center of Frankfurt and walk in. These prized rooms, which come with appropriate price tags (and may require a small consideration before you leave to get them again next year), can make your local Motel 6 look like a luxury suite. But you’re not there to enjoy the room, you’re there to work, 8.00 am to midnight for six straight days, and I prefer to walk it.

Walking, in fact, is something you become very good at once you get into the Messe (the convention center) which is essentially the size of a…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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