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News & Press: Trade Show News

IBPA Report from the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair

Thursday, November 16, 2017   (1 Comments)
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The World of Books is Alive and Well

By Terry Nathan, IBPA Chief Operations Officer –

Having just returned from the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair, I am energized and excited to see that indie publishers and authors continue to command a very large presence on the world stage.

This year I was joined by IBPA member Katie Askew of BiggerPockets Publishing who did an amazing job of representing the books and publishers on display. We were proud to display 208 IBPA member books for those that were unable to make the trek to the show. And we were honored to host a number of our larger members as part of IBPA's collective area at the show. Companies like Sourcebooks, Llewellyn, Lerner Publishing, New Harbinger Publications, Independent Publishers Group, Turner Publishing and more surrounded IBPA's collective stand, making row A in hall 6.0 a beehive of indie activity.

IBPA COO Terry Nathan (left) with BiggerPockets Publishing's Katie Askew (right) in IBPA's cooperative booth at the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair (more photos here)

A clear view of the entire IBPA cooperative booth at the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair (more photos here)

The Frankfurt Book Fair is by far the longest running and largest book fair in the world. IBPA has been attending the Frankfurt show for close to 35 years and over that time we have developed incredible relationships with publishers and agents from all over the world. Connecting once a year in Frankfurt is special and these relationships are at the heart of how foreign rights deals get done.

According to the Frankfurt Book Fair Wikipedia page:

"The Frankfurt Book Fair has a tradition spanning more than 500 years. In 1454, soon after Johannes Gutenberg had developed printing in movable letters in Mainz near Frankfurt, the first book fair was held by local booksellers."

This year saw an increase, once again, in attendance.

"In all, some 286,425 visitors attended the fair, along with 7,300 exhibitors from 102 countries. That's up from 275,342 total visitors in 2016, and 281,753 in 2015," Publishers Weekly reported.

Included within the 286,425 visitors were close to 142,000 trade visitors or book professionals, which is basically the same number as last year. That is a lot of book professionals all in one place! From Wednesday to Friday, these professionals from around the globe wheel and deal, looking to strike that sweetheart deal we all live for. And then on the weekend, show organizers open the doors to the public, inviting a whole new energy and audience. Book lovers dress in their favorite costumes and meet their favorite authors. Much of the activity over these final two days takes place in the German halls, but there is also a significant amount of interest being shown to books written in English. The weather for this year’s show was the best I’ve seen it in years, which certainly helped to bring people out in large numbers (and full costume!).

Attending this show is exhilarating and exhausting all at once. The show is five full days, Wednesday through Sunday from 9AM to 6PM. We often extend the conversation with our international colleagues into a group dinner and days can run anywhere from 12 to 15 hours, easily.

Around the show this year there was a lot of positive energy and excitement for great deals to be placed. Some of the big named authors in attendance included Margaret Atwood, Dan Brown and Nicholas Sparks. And according to another Publisher's Weekly article:

"In the fair’s professional program, the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair was marked by a sense of stability in the publishing industry. In his opening address, Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle suggested that “the global book business is doing better now than it has been for the past 50 years, and perhaps even since its inception,” citing among other things consistent, if slow, growth in many territories, and balance among print and digital formats,"

IBPA at the 2017 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 ($750/shelf, including dedicated company signage).

During the Fair we met with close to 60 foreign rights agents and publishers. 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 as mentioned above.

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.

There's Strength in Numbers
Llewellyn Worldwide employees discuss foreign rights opportunities in their private booth at the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair (more photos here)

In addition to representing members’ titles in the IBPA cooperative booth, we 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; Dorothy Smyk at New Harbinger Publications; Brooke O’Donnell, Joe Matthews, and Paul Murphy at Independent Publishers Group; Stephen Buda at J. Ross Publishing; Jim Schmelzer at Publishers' Services International; 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 2018.

A very special shout out goes to Dorothy Smyk of New Harbinger Publications on just completing her 25th year in attendance! Publishers Weekly published this amazing article in their October 9, 2017 issue. Thanks for the love, Dorothy. And thanks for your continued confidence.

New Harbinger Publications' Dorthy and Tim Smyk celebrate 25 years of attending the Frankfurt Book Fair during the 2017 event (more photos here)

Fun & Games on the Weekend

As mentioned above, the first three days of the show (October 10-13, 2017), 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 hundreds of thousands of 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 14-15, 2017.

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!

Have a look at some of the fun and games happening on the weekend:

IBPA at the 2018 Frankfurt Book Fair

Next year, the Frankfurt Book Fair will take place October 10-14, 2018. IBPA is happy to announce we will again host a cooperative booth at the Fair (our 33rd 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.

Additional Coverage


Robin Gregory, Mad Mystical Journey Press says...
Posted Monday, December 4, 2017
Beautiful booth in Frankfurt! Well done!

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