RNA members followed news avidly as it arrive online from the recent Frankfurt Book Fair.
Jan Ellis attended the event and has come along today to report on this important event in the publishing world.
Publishers and booksellers have been flocking to Frankfurt to sell their wares since the middle of the 15th century when Johannes Gutenberg developed moveable type and created the publishing industry.
Nowadays, about 7,000 exhibitors gather each year at the Messe where the core business is selling rights rather than actual books. Sometimes what is for sale is just a concept: a company will buy the rights to publish a novel that is not much more than a highly polished synopsis and a twinkle in the agent's eye. Most commonly, though, we meet each other to buy and sell translation rights to books that have already been published somewhere in the world.
My background is in illustrated books and it is always a thrill to see a title that I have created appear many months later with the text translated into Kazakh or Japanese!
So how does it work? Well, the publishing year is topped and tailed by London Book Fair in April and Frankfurt (FBF) in October: as soon as one event is finished, we begin thinking about the next. Was our stand in the best location? Should we change the display this year? Which of the many ideas we have discussed should we work up into a book dummy?
|Penguin Random House had 140 table|
Publishers start setting up October meetings in July, aiming to fill as many half-hour slots as possible over the fair. (My record was 58!) At the end of each day, there are drinks parties and dinners to attend, and this is where the best plans are concocted and deals done.
It is impossible to convey the vastness of FBF to anyone who hasn't been there, but the numbers provide a clue: there were 25,000 attendees at London Book Fair in 2015, but over 280,000 visitors to Frankfurt. Whereas the UK event is held in one place, the German show fills several massive halls.
Another huge difference is that members of the public are allowed into the German event and every year we marvel at the number of children and young people who visit. Most eye-catching of all are the fans of manga and anime who come along dressed as their favourite comic-book characters. At the weekend it is impossible to walk through the German hall, so dense are the crowds there.
Should you come if you are an author? Yes, if you want to experience the phenomenon of over a quarter of a million book lovers in the same place at almost the same time, and to visit what is a beautiful and ever-changing city. No if you expect to meet a publisher or introduce yourself to an agent because everyone is busy with meetings. London is a
It is a mad, exhausting week and we often sit around at the end of it wondering whether it was worth the time and the huge expense, but it is those late-night conversations and Sunday morning encounters with teenagers dressed as aliens or wolves that makes it all worthwhile.
|Sunday in the German hall|
|Jan Ellis (right) with her German|
publisher, Kathinka Nohl of
Endeavour Press, Germany
Thank you for this fascinating insight into FBF 2015, Jan.
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