News from Frankfurt - Where the Deals Are

What's the Buzz at Buchmesse?

Day 1: Attendence - 45,311 The big buzz was about Dave Eggers' new book, an adult novel based on Maurice Sendak´s classic Where the Wild Things Are to be published by Ecco next fall, and coinciding with the movie version, directed by Spike Jonze (and adapted for the screen by Eggers). In the celebrity/rock star department it's Keith Richards attracting attention for his upcoming life story, to be immortalized by Little Brown for a cool seven million. National Book Awards finalists were announced today, with Farrar, Straus & Giroux nailing three of the five fiction spots. * * * * * Day 2: Attendence - 57,405 Quote of the day: In a seminar on audiobooks, Martina Tittel described the "booming" German audiobook industry. "Audiobooks are fun," she enthused, and quoted German philosopher Goethe, who once described the written language as "a sad surrogate of the spoken one." Book deal of the day: Emmanuel Jal’s autobiography, War Child, his path from 7-year-old soldier to Kenya’s biggest music star. News you can use: In her presentation "Visual and Design Trends in Educational Publishing", Getty Images’ Trend Research Expert Rebecca Swift says the hottest new trends in visual communication are: Authenticity. Advertisers are increasingly drawing on images from consumer-generated sites like Facebook and MySpace. Healthiness. Not just vitality, but spirituality. The yoga pose has been ubiquitous in the advertising world in the past few years. The green phenomenon. According to Swift, "the world of the visual has had a green wash on it. Expect to see more penguins and polar bears in the future." * * * * * Day 3: Attendence - 51,553 Translation news: A Japanese translation of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov has sold 300,000 copies since it was published in Sept. 2006. In all, 56,613 books were published in Japan last year, of which 4,943 (8.6%) were translated. Of those, 1,523 titles were translated from English (606 of which were romance titles published by Harlequin). * * * * * Day 4: Attendence - 72,371 Big news from the little guys: The Book Company, an Australian children's book publisher did no export business at all when they attended their first Frankfurt Book Fair. Twelve years later, 85% of The Book Company’s income is derived from overseas sales, and it has sold books to 38 countries in 23 different languages. The US and UK are their largest markets but China, Japan, Germany, Serbia and Hungary are also strong. * * * * * Day 5: Total attendence: 283,293 According to Thomas Minkus, Frankfurt’s Director of Marketing & Communications, word on the Fair was "very positive." Comments ranged from “the best fair ever” to “a good working fair." "Publishers were extremely pleased. We had the same response from the Literary Scouts & Agents Centre."


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Frankfurt Book Fair - October 10-14, 2008

News and Views from the World's Largest Book Publishing Show
Many of us won’t be able to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair (October 10-14) this year, but thanks to our digitized world, we can experience some of the world’s largest book industry gathering’s features from our desktops.

The Fair houses 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries, displaying about 400,000 books and drawing some 280,000 visitors. Over 2,500 Book Fair events include award ceremonies, exhibitions and author appearances, with Richard Dawkins, Fay Weldon, Richard Ford, Elif Shafak, Umberto Eco, Nuruddin Farrah, Pierre Bayard and Zeruya Shalev all expected to take part. The week kicked off with the awarding of the German Book Prize: author Julia Franck won the 2007 prize for her novel Die Mittagsfrau. About 60% of the rights bought by German publishers are for English-language books, but only 7% of rights sales made by German companies are to English-language publishers. The new book prize was established in part to help correct this imbalance.

Visit the “Buchmesse” website, sign up as a virtual attendee and you'll receive the daily newsletter, have access to articles and podcasts, and read what bloggers Edward Nawotaka, Andrew Wilkins and Michelle Pauli have to report from the fairgrounds.

Of all the "reports from Frankfurt" I've read, here's one from the 10/14/07 U.K. Observer by Carole Cadwalladr that's both funny and informative, gossipy and reflective. She gives her first impressions of the Fair, and a great assessment of the dilemma of being an author in today's ever-more-commercial world of publishing. She quotes agent Patrick Janson-Smith, who says: "You look around and you think the world needs another book like it needs a hole in the head. (Publishers have) become completely risk-averse. It really is all down to what sales and marketing think these days. And, frankly, there's no point even selling to a publisher if they can't get enthusiastic about it - you might as well chuck it in the bin." (Read the article here.)

The Fair always embraces new technologies, and this year will examine how all aspects of digitization -– from e-books, e-marketing and Web 2.0 through to online platforms such as Google or Amazon –- will impact the publishing industry. On Wednesday October 10th, leading figures from the publishing world will take part in a round-table discussion on new technologies and global strategies under the heading: “The Quest for Global Digital Sales: New Relationships and New Revenues.” John Makinson, CEO of Penguin Group will be joined in this debate by Brian Murray, President of HarperCollins, Peter Olson, Chairman and CEO of Random House, and Richard Charkin from Holtzbrinck Publishers.

The organizers of the Book Fair recently conducted a major survey of book industry professionals, asking respondents to identify the challenges and threats facing the industry and to predict emerging trends and areas of growth. Not surprisingly, international publishers and retailers identified digitization as the overriding priority and the single most important challenge facing the industry. Competition from other media and sources of entertainment was named as the biggest threat in an industry where the number of books published continues to increase each year. Asked what the industry will look like 50 years from now, only 11 percent thought the printed book will be obsolete, but almost a quarter (23 percent) predicted that brick & mortar booksellers would no longer exist. 29 percent think that China will dominate the industry in the next decade.

Over 1,300 professionals from 86 countries took part. Respondents were predominantly European (85 percent), with 9% from North America and all other continents represented roughly equally.

Concerns about digitization were strongest in Anglophone countries, with 71 percent of North Americans, 77 percent of Australasians and 68 per cent of UK respondents rating this challenge as the most important.

Asked what is the biggest threat to the publishing industry today, respondents said:

1. competition from other media and sources of entertainment (50 percent)
2. over-publishing (31 percent)
3. the proliferation of piracy (23 percent)
4. illiteracy levels in both western Europe and the developing world (17 percent)

Who is actually steering the book industry today, making the decisions that make publishing successful and generate the bestsellers? 37 percent felt that publishers were still key to the success of the industry. Marketing professionals, at 31 percent, were not far behind. 22 percent see the consumer as leading the demand for books -- only 8 percent felt that authors drive the industry.
Finally, the industry was asked where the major areas of growth are for the industry in the coming years.

1. 44 percent of respondents identified the use of e-books

2. 41 percent identified audiobooks, many of which are now available as downloads

3. As the world becomes increasingly globalized, 27 percent of respondents saw books in translation (much of the business of the Frankfurt Book Fair) as a growth area.

4. 27 percent identified educational publishing

See the entire survey online.