Frankfurt Book Fair

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Frankfurt Book Fair
Exhibition Hall in 2008
Status Active
Genre Multi-genre
Venue Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds
Location(s) Frankfurt am Main
Country Germany
Inaugurated 17th century
modern era: 1949
Attendance 286,000

The Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) (German: Frankfurter Buchmesse) is the world's largest trade fair for books, based on the number of publishing companies represented, as well as the number of visitors.

It is held annually in mid-October at the Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The first three days are restricted exclusively to trade visitors; the general public can attend on the last two.

Representatives from book publishing and multimedia companies from all over the world come to the Frankfurt Book Fair in order to negotiate international publishing rights and licensing fees. The fair is organised by a subsidiary company of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. For five days more than 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries and more than 286,000 visitors take part. The Frankfurt Book Fair is considered to be the most important book fair in the world for international deals and trading.



The Frankfurt Book Fair with the fair's tower (Messeturm, 2004)

The Frankfurt Book Fair has a tradition that spans over more than 500 years. Soon after Johannes Gutenberg had developed printing in movable letters in Mainz near Frankfurt, the first book fair was held by local booksellers. Until the end of the 17th century, it was the most important book fair in Europe. As a consequence of political and cultural developments, it was eclipsed by the Leipzig Book Fair during the Enlightenment. After World War II, the first book fair was held again in 1949 at the St. Paul's Church. Since then, it has regained its pre-eminent position.


The Frankfurt Book Fair is a critical marketing event for the launching of books, but it is also an important event to facilitate the negotiation of the international sale of rights and licences. Visitors take the opportunity to obtain information about the publishing market, to network, and to do business. Publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, academics, illustrators, service providers, film producers, translators, printers, professional and trade associations, institutions, artists, authors, antiquarians, software and multimedia suppliers all take part in the events and business climate of Frankfurt Book Fair. In 2006, more than 11,000 journalists from 66 countries reported on the fair which brought together 7,272 individual exhibitors from 113 countries, and more than 183,000 trade visitors. In 2009, there were 7,314 individual exhibitors from some 100 countries, presenting over 400,000 books. Some 300,000 visitors attended the fair.

During the fair the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade is given, during a ceremony in the Paulskirche. The prize has been awarded each year since 1950.

The fair is also the birthplace of the Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year, a humorous award which is given to the book with the oddest title.

Parallel events and joint ventures

The Frankfurt Book Fair is at the origin of other initiatives which would not exist without it, and which are very closely linked to its goals and, up to a point, management structure.

On the occasion of the 1980 Fair, was founded Litprom - the Society for the Promotion of African, Asian and Latin American Literature. As a non profit association, it monitors literary trends and developments and selects the best examples of creative writing from Africa, Asia and Latin America for translation into German, and to promote them in Germany, Switzerland and Austria by encouraging contacts between authors and publishers from the "Third World" and those in the German-speaking region; it serves as an information centre and clearing house about literature from Africa, Asia and Latin America; it helps establish and encourage a forum of debate about "Third World" literature.

Since June 2006, a joint venture has been added: the annual Cape Town Bookfair. The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is another joint venture now.

In 2006, Litcam, a campaign first of all against illiteracy began. In this context, the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2007 also started a short story project named "Who's on the line? Call for free" by and for people with migration background.

Guests of honour, focuses of interests

Turkey's Guest of Honour pavilion in 2008

Since 1976, a guest of honour, or a focus of interest is named for the fair. A special literary programme is organised for the occasion (readings, arts exhibitions, public discussion panels, theatre productions, and radio and TV programmes). A special exhibition hall is set up for the guest country, and the major publishing houses are present at the fair.

Year Guest of honour / Focus of interest Motto
1976 Latin America Latin American literature
1978 Kind und Buch (Child and book)
1980 Subsaharan Africa
1982 Religions
1984 George Orwell
1986 India Indian literature Wandel in Tradition (Change in tradition)
1988 Italy Italian literature Italienisches Tagebuch (Italian diary)
1989 France French literature L’Automne français (French autumn)
1990 Japan Japanese literature Then and Now
1991 Spain Spanish literature La Hora de España (Spain's hour)
1992 Mexico Mexican literature Ein offenes Buch (An open book)
1993 Flanders and the Netherlands Flemish and Dutch literature Weltoffen (Open-minded)
1994 Brasil Brazilian literature Begegnung von Kulturen (Encounter of cultures)
1995 Austria Austrian literature
1996 Ireland Irish literature Und seine Diaspora (And its diaspora)
1997 Portugal Portuguese literature Wege in die Welt (Paths into the world)
1998 Switzerland Swiss literature Hoher Himmel – enges Tal (High skies – narrow valleys)
1999 Hungary Hungarian literature Unbegrenzt (unlimited)
2000 Poland Polish literature ©Poland
2001 Greece Greek literature Neue Wege nach Ithaka (New ways to Ithaka)
2002 Lithuania Lithuanian literature Fortsetzung folgt (To be continued)
2003 Russia Russian literature Neue Seiten (New pages/perspectives)
2004 Arab world Arab literature
2005 Korea Korean literature
2006 India Indian literature Today’s India
2007 Catalan Countries Catalan literature Singular i Universal (Singular and general)
2008 Turkey Turkish literature Faszinierend farbig (Fascinatingly colourful)
2009 China Chinese literature Tradition & Innovation
2010 Argentina Argentine literature Kultur in Bewegung (Culture in motion)
2011 Iceland Icelandic literature Sagenhaftes Island (Fabulous Iceland)
2012 New Zealand New Zealand literature Bevor es bei euch hell wird (While you were sleeping)
2013 Brazil Brazilian literature
2014 Finland Finnish literature Finnland. Cool.
2015 Indonesia Indonesian literature 17.000 Inseln der Imagination (17.000 Islands of Imagination)
2016 Netherlands and Flanders Dutch literature
2017 France French literature
2018 Georgia

Some choices aroused criticism and controversy. The 2007 fair attracted criticism from both the Spanish and German media. German news magazine Der Spiegel described it as "closed-minded" for its policy of not including the many Catalans who write in Spanish in its definition of Catalan literature.[1] The decision to exclude any element of "Spanishness", defined as literature exclusively done in Spanish, from the fair was made in spite of the fact that the Spanish government contributed more than 6 million euros towards the cost of the fair.[2]

The Guest of Honour in 2009 was China, stirring a controversy about the country's record on human rights.

See also


  1. A Controversial Homage to Catalonia: Commerce Replaces Politics at the Frankfurt Book Fair – International – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News

External links

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