Frankfurt Book Fair 2017: Cultural, economical, political

According to a press release NSR received from the 2017 Frankfurter Buchmesse, the world’s largest Book Fair ended yesterday with some positive numbers:

  • 286,425 visitors from over 150 countries
  • 3 percent increase in attendance over 2016
  • 7,300 exhibitors from 102 countries
  • a total of 4,000 events  over the course of six days
  • 500 tables sold at the Literary Agents and Scouts Centre (LitAg), a new record
  • 6.5 percent more visitors over the weekend (when the Fair is open to the public)

More from the press release summing up this year’s Fair:

The opening of the Frankfurter Buchmesse by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron sent a strong signal highlighting a Europe of culture. Various other politicians attended the fair, including French Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen, German Commissioner for Culture and the Media Monika Grütters, German Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Andrea Nahles, German SPD Party Leader Martin Schulz, and Gregor Gysi, President of the European Left. The fair was overshadowed by confrontations between left- and right-wing groups.

“Over the course of five days, some 280,000 visitors come to the Frankfurter Buchmesse from over 150 countries. It’s a place that benefits from an enormous diversity of opinion. We categorically reject the political position and publishing activities of the New Right. At the same time, as organiser of the largest international trade fair for books and media, we are obliged to uphold the fundamental right to free expression. Conflicts sometimes occur here. This year we experienced physical altercations between left- and right-wing groups that had to be disbursed by the police. We wholly condemn violence as a means of resolving disputes,” said Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurter Buchmesse.

“Society faces major questions and challenges – that was again palpable at this year’s book fair. Now as never before, publishers and booksellers need to stimulate debate and promote dialogue and political discourse. In the past few days, the book industry demonstrated once more its vibrancy and diversity. It also sent out a clear call for freedom of expression and pluralism, for an open and tolerant society, from Frankfurt to the world” said Heinrich Riethmüller, chairman of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association.

The presence of the Guest of Honour, France was at the centre of the Frankfurter Buchmesse 2017. “Francfort en Français” concluded the largest and most significant cultural project that France has ever organised with partners in Germany. The project was based on the two countries’ close friendship and thrived on the vision of working together to create an intellectual, a literary and a cultural Europe. During the week, 180 francophone authors met their readers at some 350 events at the fair and in the city. In past days, thousands of people visited the French pavilion, turning it and its ornate wooden structure into a lively venue.

The two pre-Book Fair conferences, THE MARKETS and Frankfurt Rights Meeting, highlighted a changing world and the role of publishers in the shifting ideology, economy, and business opportunities. “THE MARKETS – Change: A 360 Degree View” once again looked at the world as a whole, focusing on several specific issues—diversity, Brexit, immigration, and sharing stories across borders. The markets highlighted at this year’s conference were France, India, Southeast Asia, UK and the USA, where analysts and key players highlighted changes and developments.In his opening keynote, Andrew Wylie, President of The Wylie Agency and one of the world’s most influential literary agents, examined the global, political and ideological change that has taken place over the last two years. “We see things differently. The populist view is that we do not; there is no appreciation of another perspective. But that difference is what stimulates readers, and sells books. And resolves conflicts. And helps us travel through the variable, enticing world,” said Wylie.

At this year’s Frankfurt Rights Meeting, the focus was on how change is the new constant and helping those in the rights community adjust to this moving target.

The Frankfurter Buchmesse once again served as the world’s largest stage for literature, something made possible by high-profile authors such as Margaret Atwood, Cecelia Ahern, Paula Hawkins, Nicholas Sparks, Édouard Louis, Leïla Slimani, Daniel Kehlmann, Rafik Schami, mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner, Ilija Trojanow, thriller authors Dam Brown and Ken Follett, and teen star Lukas Rieger, among many others. Thanks to BOOKFEST, the festival’s boundaries were extended into Frankfurt’s nightlife, with slams, readings, networking events and parties taking place in selected bars and clubs.

THE ARTS+, the business festival at the Frankfurter Buchmesse, was further developed this year. Across 3,000 square metres, 54 exhibitors and 31 additional partners presented innovative projects and services, while 120 speakers shared their vision of the creative sector’s future. Among the best-known speakers were Volksbühne Artistic Director Chris Dercon, Director of ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe Peter Weibel, Astrid Welter of Fondazione Prada, CEO and founder of Arago Chris Boos, Artificial Intelligence expert Dr. Ahmed Elgammal, and Google’s Caroline Atkinson, economic expert and former advisor to the Obama Administration (link to sound file: Artists such as John Craig Freeman and Jeremy Bailey and creatives such as Diane Drubay of “We are Museums” rounded off the programme.”