Physical show cancelled, Frankfurt Book Fair goes virtual

With nearly a month to go for the world’s biggest trade fair in publishing, Frankfurt Book Fair has announced the cancellation of its traditional on-site exhibition for the year due to the corona pandemic, since current travel restrictions would prevent numerous country stands from being realised as planned. In addition, the quarantine requirements that will be enforced on 1 October 2020 make it nearly impossible for European exhibitors and trade visitors to participate.

09 Sep 2020 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

The Fair this year will have an extensive digital programme, online events as well as live events

However, this doesn’t mean that the fair itself is cancelled. This year, Frankfurt Book Fair will be held from 14 to 18 October 2020 with an extensive digital programme for publishing professionals, exciting online events at Bookfest digital for an international readership, as well as live events in Frankfurt on the ARD Book Fair Stage in the Festhalle and some 80 events as part of Bookfest city.

“Frankfurter Buchmesse is not only the world’s largest book fair, it is also a constantly evolving enterprise — lively, agile and adaptable. Given the current situation, this means a fair without an on-site exhibition in 2020 because of the more stringent corona restrictions being imposed once again. However, events in Frankfurt am Main and other cities will allow people to experience the thrill books can provide – live in Frankfurt, as well as through livestreams and recordings accessible at the viewer’s convenience,” said Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, chairwoman of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels).

Juergen Boos, director of Frankfurter Buchmesse, added, “Frankfurter Buchmesse thrives on international exchange. We would like to thank all exhibitors for their confidence and willingness to help realise a physical version of Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020. Now the focus will be on our digital offerings. We have expanded our numerous existing services in recent months into a detailed offer of digital services and online events. That means international publishing professionals will be able to use known and new digital venues to drive their business forward, even in times of corona. And the reading public will have the opportunity to express its enthusiasm for books in two ways: online and at events in Frankfurt.”

Frankfurt Rights

Frankfurt Rights is Frankfurter Buchmesse’s new platform for the international rights and licence trade for acquiring (audio-)book licences, selling translation rights, and discovering suitable material for film productions. It brings together all the players in the rights and licence trade. New business contacts can be made, publisher’s profiles and catalogues can be browsed and personal favourite lists of titles can be created. Furthermore, sample chapters or other preview materials can be shared and messages from colleagues and business partners can be sent and received. Frankfurt Rights will be available online at from 1 October 2020. 

Frankfurt Conference

Frankfurter Buchmesse’s first purely digital conference series – Frankfurt Conference – will offer a digital programme of events for publishing professionals from Monday to Thursday (12–15 October 2020). The discussions, Q&A sessions and brief talks with international experts will be geared towards members of the international publishing industry, providing them with a virtual platform for gaining additional professional experience, exchanging ideas and making new contacts. Events will be held over four days, covering the areas such as academic and scholarly publishing, rights and licensing, publishing insights, and audio.

Further online events for publishing professionals will be offered before and during the book fair week — the entire programme will be available from mid-September on at To take part in the free online events, registration at My Book Fair is required. This will be possible from mid-September on at

Guest of Honour Canada

Canada is preparing a series of virtual events that showcase the diversity, creativity and uniqueness of its literary and cultural scene. The Canadian organisers will present their programme in September. The country’s main physical appearance will take place in 2021.

Signals of Hope

The year 2020 with its many crises – the corona pandemic, climate change and the fight for equality – has put an abrupt end to many received ideas. In these times of uncertainty and conspiracy theories, Frankfurter Buchmesse would like to set an example: through its virtual project Signals of Hope, it wants to show how much potential is offered by hope itself and by new ideas for getting involved. Signals of Hope will be launched in mid-September with a social media campaign, and its programme of events can be experienced each day of the fair at

Bookfest digital and Bookfest city

This year, Bookfest will take place physically in the city of Frankfurt as Bookfest city and, for the first time, virtually as Bookfest digital. On Saturday, 17 October 2020, Bookfest digital will stream a multifaceted programme from 10 am to 10 pm (CEST), presenting Elizabeth Gilbert, Don Winslow, Karin Slaughter, Ayad Akhtar, Eliot Weinberger, Clemens Meyer, Olga Grjasnowa, Joachim Meyerhoff among others. Bookfest digital will be broadcast on two channels accessible at The complete programme is available from mid-September at

The approximately 80 events planned for Bookfest city will be held on all five days of the fair at many locations throughout Frankfurt. An exciting programme full of literature, inspiration and engaging interactions is guaranteed, thanks to guests such as Margit Auer, Max von Thun, Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, Bov Bjerg, Kristof Magnusson, Helmut Zierl, Max Giermann, Anastasia Zampounidis, Christian Stöcker, Andreas Steinhöfel, Eric Mayer, Linda Zervakis and Ahmad Mansour.

All locations being used for Bookfest city meet the safety requirements mandated by the state of Hesse. The number of participants will be limited, ensuring compliance with social-distancing guidelines. The pre-registrations and the final Bookfest programme are available from mid-September at