73rd Frankfurter Buchmesse: Back to business, but not back to normal

Two thousand companies from 80 countries have come to Frankfurt as exhibitors in keeping with the motto “Re:connect – Welcome back to Frankfurt”. In the coming days, the spotlight will be on more than 300 international authors, who will be discussing their new works of fiction and nonfiction, their debuts, poetry and reportage. Two thousand media representatives from around the world will report on all the action take place in the exhibition halls.

20 Oct 2021 | By PrintWeek Team

‘Back to business’, however, does not mean things are now ‘back to normal’

“The desire for in-person interactions is once again bringing the international book and publishing industry together in Frankfurt. The 73rd Frankfurter Buchmesse puts the focus on an industry that has shown itself to be resilient, creative and innovative during the pandemic. ‘Back to business’, however, does not mean things are now ‘back to normal’: the book fair will look different this year from what we’ve known in the past. However, trade visitors and exhibitors from many countries are able to exhibit in Frankfurt this year. Those who cannot attend due to travel restrictions, could participate the Frankfurt Conference and the Masterclasses last week and will be able to watch ‘Frankfurt Studio – Inside Publishing’, a compelling digital trade programme in which many of the industry’s opinion leaders will have their say,” said Juergen Boos, President of Frankfurter Buchmesse, at the press conference opening the book fair.

“The pandemic has been one of the biggest stress tests in history and we have passed it with flying colours. Publishers, bookstores and book logistic companies have worked hard to stay close to their clients and ensure that books reached people despite these challenging times,” said Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, chairwoman of Börsenverein (German Publishers & Booksellers Association), at the press conference to mark the opening of Frankfurter Buchmesse. “Social distancing did not mean distancing from books. People used the time at home to read more often. Books can fulfil important needs in challenging times: They provide answers to pressing questions, giving substantiated information in a clear and comprehensive format. A book can broaden our view, open up new worlds and show us other ways of living. It can offer food for thought, give courage and hope.”

The 73rd Frankfurter Buchmesse has been made possible by generous financial support from the German government’s NEUSTART KULTUR programme. “The pandemic has had an existential impact on the entire trade fair industry. To that extent, we are very pleased that Frankfurter Buchmesse is one of the first international book fairs to take place once again, albeit in a somewhat altered form in this transitional year. In 2021, Germany’s Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Prof. Monika Grütters, has provided the book fair with substantial funding from the NEUSTART KULTUR programme. That has allowed us to give our exhibitors planning security. In addition, a large part of the funding has been or will be used to implement our hygiene and security plan, to develop and improve sustainable digital offerings and to make it possible for exhibitors and visitors to attend,” said Boos.

Safety first

The top priority is ensuring the safety of all participants while they are at the fair. Admission to the exhibition grounds is only possible with a personalised ticket and in keeping with the “3G rule”. Visitors can only enter after showing that they meet the relevant requirements: they must prove that they are fully vaccinated against, have recovered from or have tested negative for Covid-19.

How do we want to live our lives?

The question “How do we want to live our lives?” runs like a thread through the programme of this year’s book fair. The ARD Book Fair Stage in the Festhalle will present 75 events with high-profile guests addressing topics such as justice, sustainability, diversity, living and working, education and digitalisation. Participants will include Stefan Aust, Alina Bronsky, Bülent Ceylan, Jenny Erpenbeck, Elke Heidenreich, Julia Franck, Hallgrímur Helgasson, Prof. Dietrich Grönemeyer, Carolin Kebekus, Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim, Helen Macdonald, LiBeraturpreis-winner Pilar Quintana, Nicole Seifert, Edgar Selge, and Sahra Wagenknecht.

Television broadcaster ARTE will also take up this central topic in a documentary that follows several thought leaders as they develop a shared vision in just a short amount of time. The participants come from the worlds of art, culture, science, business, innovation and education. They include Sophia Fritz, Dmitry Glukhovsky, Katharina Grosse, Francis Kéré, Raul Krauthausen, Van Bo Le-Mentzel, Mithu Sanyal and Daniel Schreiber. Isabell Šuba is the director. ARTE will be documenting the entire process in the broadcast “Wie wollen wir leben?”