The Frankfurt Book Fair

Article excerpt

This is the big one. By all measurements, in whatever industry, the Frankfurt Book Fair [http://www. book-fair.com/en/portal.php] is a large show. The cab driver who drove me to an airport hotel on my concluding day at the fair handed me a pocket calendar listing the important shows throughout the year held at Frankfurt's gigantic Messe (fairgrounds)--the Automobile Show, BeautyWorld, Christmas World. But, he said, the Buchmesse is the largest.

The Trade Fair complex itself [http://www.messefrankfurt.com/ corporate/en] is immense--the third largest in the world. It covers 578,000 square meters (more than 6 million square feet). Of that, 321,700 square meters (almost 3.5 million square feet) comprise several multistory exhibit halls. Another 83,000 square meters (about 900,000 square feet) are in an open-air plaza, or Agora. The 2006 Book Fair open area housed a reading tent, an inviting walk-through display area for the honored country of the year (India), and about 50 stalls of artists with some very attractive jewelry, clothing, and decorative objects for sale. Buses take you from Building 8 (one of the two main entrances) to the Agora--and that still leaves you only about halfway to the opposite entrance of the Messe at Building 1.

The 2006 fair ran from Wednesday, Oct. 4 through Sunday, Oct. 8. The first 3 days were trade visitor days, when publishers, booksellers, literary agents, scouts, illustrators, translators, industry suppliers, and the press converge to do business. On Saturday and Sunday, the grounds opened to the general public who pay 9.50 [euro] (ca. $12). Despite the charge, the already crowded quarters become wall-to-wall people.

Books and More

Five different buildings, totaling 13 floors, were in use for the 2006 exhibits. Before the trade opening, about 18,000 meters of electric cable were laid--enough to stretch between the downtown exhibition grounds and the Frankfurt airport (a half-hour ride if the traffic isn't bad--but the show ensured that never happened!). The booths throughout the exhibit halls consist of partitions that, lined end to end, would run longer than 17 kilometers (12 miles).

I was issued a 200-page pocket guide listing exhibitors, with about 40 names and locations per page; that's about 8000 exhibitors. Exhibiting companies were grouped in order by country, from Albania (Albanien in German) to Zimbabwe (Simbabwe). This alphabetization is one of the few places where English prevails. The exhibition booths are located by pavilions, floors, aisles, and booth numbers, producing a number for each booth almost as intricate and meaningful as a library shelf number. I found the Google listing under United States of America (Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika) at 8.0 M 904. That is Building 8 (International Exhibits), the ground floor, aisle M, and then walk all the way over to the 900 block. But I couldn't find LexisNexis under the U.S. listing--it was filed under Germany, because the company exhibiting was actually LexisNexis Deutschland GmbH, headquartered in Munster; its booth was 4.2 G 423 (Building 4's second floor). Considering the information industry's frequent mergers and acquisitions and the globalization of many companies, it was sometimes difficult to find a particular vendor.

Official press information from the Frankfurter Buchmesse stressed that only about 43 percent of products at the show are traditional books. Also covered are magazines and newspapers, CD-ROMs, DVDs, calendars and postcards, audiobooks, online databases, Web sites, and more. The major pavilions (buildings and floors) were divided this way:

3.0 * Fiction and Nonfiction

* Children's Books

* Comics

3.1 * Fiction and Nonfiction

* Religion/Spiritual

* Tourism

4.0 * Antiquarian Book Fair

* Publishing Solutions & Book Trade Services

4.1 * Fiction, Nonfiction, and Art Books; Art

4. …