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News & Press: Trade Show News

IBPA Report from the Frankfurt Book Fair 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016   (0 Comments)
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By Mimi Le, IBPA Project Manager --

IBPA staff take meetings with rights agents in the IBPA cooperative booth at the 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair.

What’s the Big Deal?

It was clear that independent publishing was alive and well at the 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair, with indie publishers and authors commanding a larger presence than ever before. For example, two hundred and nine (209) individual books were on display in IBPA’s cooperative booth (up from 192 in 2015 and 179 in 2014). Keep in mind that this number does not account for the independent books on display in our partner booths – representing members who purchased their own private booth through IBPA. The books from IBPA's partner booths combined with the books from our cooperative booth easily exceeded a thousand new books for the international community to enjoy!

So what’s the big deal? Why are independent publishers and authors investing their time, resources, and energy in the Frankfurt Book Fair? Why was IBPA even there?

According to Publishers Weekly:

"The Frankfurt Book Fair...reported that total attendance at the fair rose modestly for the second year in a row. On the trade side, attendance was up 1.3%, with 142,300 trade visitors this year, compared to 140,474 in 2015. In total, including the public day of the fair, attendance topped 277,000, a modest increase over the 275,791 that attended last year."

277,000 visitors – is that a lot? To put this number into perspective, one could compare it to the London Book Fair (considered second only to the Frankfurt Book Fair), an event that welcomed 25,000 attendees from 124 countries earlier this year, and North America’s biggest event for publishing, BookExpo, which reported a total event attendance of 17,249.

Knowing everything above, you can understand why people describe the Frankfurt Book Fair as the mecca for all publishers, booksellers, rights agents, and media trend-spotters: they’re not exaggerating. The Frankfurt Book Fair, properly known as Frankfurter Buchmesse, is the place to be, or at least the premier event to have your book displayed, if you, your book, or both, are looking for international exposure.

IBPA at the 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair

IBPA supports members' books at the Frankfurt Book Fair in a few different ways. Many IBPA members purchase a single-title display in the IBPA cooperative booth ($185/title). In addition to the onsite, face-out display, those who sign up for single-title display are added to the show catalog which is sent to IBPA's exclusive list of 600+ international contacts. Other members opt for the full-shelf display, which accommodates 4-5 books along with catalogs or sell sheets ($700/shelf, including dedicated company signage).

This year’s onsite staff included myself and IBPA Chief Operations Officer Terry Nathan.

During the Fair, Terry and I met with over 75 foreign rights agents and publishers (up from 63 appointments in 2015). Each meeting lasts 15-30 minutes. During these meetings, we got a sense of the buyer's particular area of interest and what may be happening in their local publishing scene.

Interest areas are often quite specific. Sometimes we'll have many titles for the rights agent to consider; other times just a few. In rare cases, of course, we won't have anything at all. But, like everything else in the publishing business, it’s all about building relationships. For example, Terry met with a pair of publishers from Greece who explained that the Greek economy is a bit "upside down" right now and they were not at the show to acquire rights. Instead, they made the trip to maintain the relationships they've built over many years, including the relationship with IBPA. Next year, or perhaps the year after, they will be ready to buy again. When this happens, IBPA will be there.

Following the Fair, members displaying in IBPA's cooperative booth received a report of all of meetings held and any interest experienced in their particular book.

A complete catalog of titles represented in IBPA’s cooperative booth is available online. And, to take a look at each book displayed, check out the photo album on Facebook.

IBPA Chief Operations Officer Terry Nathan talks about the books on display in IBPA's cooperative booth with one of over 75 foreign rights agents.

There's Strength in Numbers

In addition to representing members’ titles in the IBPA cooperative booth, Terry and I were privileged to be joined on the show floor by those members who chose to purchase a private booth through IBPA. Together, our presence secured almost a whole aisle in Hall 6.0!

IBPA would like to give special thanks to Stephanie Beard at Turner Publishing, Sara Hartman-Seeskin at Sourcebooks; Maria Kjoller at Lerner Publishing; Bill Krause at Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.; Dorothy Smyk at New Harbinger Publications; Brooke O’Donnell, Joe Matthews, and Paul Murphy at Independent Publishers Group; Sabine Weeke at Findhorn Press; Stephen Buda at J. Ross Publishing; Jim Schmelzer at Publishers’ Services International; John Atkin at Silvermine International Books; and Ethan Atkin at Cranbury International.

By signing up to host their own booth with IBPA, these members received free freight to the Fair and booth support on site. We look forward to hosting them again in 2017.

Sourcebooks' booth at the 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair.

The Frankfurt Book Fair Isn't All Suits and Ties
Two German girls dressed as the characters from a Japanese anime called Chobits.

From October 19-21, 2016, publishing and multimedia companies from all over the world were briskly walking from one appointment to another, either negotiating international publishing rights or exchanging information for future dealings. Each booth occupied by at least two individuals sitting across from each other around a small table; catalogs and books sprawled between them. These three days alone welcomed 142,300 trade visitors – professionals who attend the Fair for the purpose of doing business.

The last two days of the Fair, however, hosted a different crowd. Non-trade visitors — also known as the "public"— were invited to attend the Fair on October 22-23, 2016. This year, officials reported that over 84,700 non-trade visitors attended the two-day public event.

The majority of visitors were German locals looking to buy books in German or discover interesting English-language books. Many German teenagers came as Cosplayers, dressed up as their favorite characters from animated films, comics, books, and manga. For us, Saturday and Sunday felt like a completely different Fair!

IBPA at the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair

Next year, the Frankfurt Book Fair will take place October 11-15, 2017. IBPA is happy to announce we will again host a cooperative booth at the Fair (our 32nd year in attendance!). We look forward to displaying your book.

More information is available here. If you have questions, feel free to e-mail us at or call our office at (310) 546-1818.

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