The Frankfurt book fair is the biggest book exposition in the world, attracting 7500 exhibitors from over 110 countries. It is open for five days, during the first three only those from the industry attend but on the last two that always land on a weekend it is open to the general public.
The publishers, agents and others attending for business are running around to attend meetings and it is not uncommon to hear of people with 80 appointments in their agenda over the three business days. International publishing rights and various things contractual are agreed and shaken on.
For the author the book fair is a both an impressive yet harrowing experience. You get the feeling that the book will live, in some form at least and that the book industry is standing quite strong despite the miserable economy most countries now face. But you also feel pretty small as the titles on display outnumber the stars in the sky. In addition, the authors’ part in the book fair takes second or third place to the wheeling and the dealing and they are for most part in the way of the ongoing commercial matters that need to be concluded.
At the opening of the book fair the head of the German publishing association made a speech that in most part regarded e-books. Turns out that in Germany they have a political movement called the Pirate party that fights for the abolishment of copyright, something of great worry to the German publishers, quite understandibly. In the last municipal elections this party won just over 8% of the votes in Berlin and they are expected to do quite well come the federal elections. This is not the only country with a Pirate party I am told, these have also to managed to win seats in various elections elsewhere, namely in Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic and in Spain. In 2009 the Pirate party had the third most members of all political parties in Sweden although I am not sure how popular they are in the other countries mentioned.
To be fair, the pirate parties have other things on their agenda than abolishing copyrights but as the name implies this is one of their main selling points.
There is a generation or two out there now that is used to getting a lot for free that used to cost money – namely news, information and entertainment, available in abundance for free on the internet. I really don’t know how this works really, i.e. do the advertisements on the news media pages really pay enough to keep this rolling or is it being paid for in most part by subscribers to the paper edition?
And one thing of interest, how is it that google is worth so much when all it does is send you to pages that others set up mostly for free? Should google pay these per entrance off their search engine?
So that is it for now. Aside from being in Frankfurt for the book fair I have also been at the Manchester Literature festival which was very nice. The hotel I stayed in was next door to a convention center which was holding a hairdressers’ convention so the hotel was full of hairdressers and beauticians. Now, I have been to crime writers conventions and engineering conventions, the participants of which do not hold a candle to the happy hairdressers. There was less oxygen in the air within the hotel than perfume.