“In times when poisonous narratives have become popular and the spreading of fear and hatred have once again become socially acceptable, we liberal, democratically minded bibliophiles must respond with attractive counterarguments,” said Boos, speaking at the fair’s opening press conference. “The Frankfurter Buchmesse brings together people who represent a range of diverse opinions. It is, therefore, very well suited as a venue for passionate discussions and debates.”
In his remarks on the development of international book markets, Markus Dohle, CEO of the multinational publishing group Penguin Random House, expressed optimism, noting that, since the start of the media industry’s digital transformation some 15 years ago, book markets in most countries have grown slowly but surely. According to Dohle, the fundamental challenge for the publishing industry stemming from today’s digital transformation is finding new ways of engaging with readers. “Given the way that the eCommerce market for books of all formats is developing and growing, we need a new approach to marketing books. We also have to be able to generate demand for our books – directly and at scale,” he said. Penguin Random House is the world’s largest trade book publisher with more than 250 imprints on five continents.
Heinrich Riethmüller, chairman of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, emphasised the importance of the book industry for a free, democratic society. “This is the book industry’s hour,” he said. According to Riethmüller, in troubled times, publishers and bookshops promote dialogue, provide trustworthy information and foster the ability to form well-versed opinions – and for that it needs reliable conditions. He, therefore, called on the forthcoming German government: “Improve the conditions for an independent, vibrant and diverse publishing landscape. Only when publishers receive appropriate remuneration for their services and have a sufficient degree of planning reliability will they be able to invest in literature and new and innovative ways of distributing and reading books. What is at issue here is nothing less than the quality of education and the independence of publishing houses.”
Some 7,300 exhibitors from 102 countries, a slight increase from 2016, are expected at this year’s fair, the largest gathering of the international book and media industry. The Guest of Honour country this year in France.