14 October 2008

60th International Frankfurt Book Fair

This afternoon at 5 p.m. local time - while Ireland was beginning to digest Brian Lenihan's first budget - the International Frankfurt Book Fair 2008 was officially opened with a ceremony at the central exhibition ground in Frankfurt/Germany.

The annual event, which always takes place in October, is the largest book fair and literary exhibition in the world and runs from tomorrow morning (October 15th) until Sunday (October 19th). While the weekdays are reserved for trade visitors only, on Saturday and Sunday the fair is also open to the general public (and always filled with thousands of eager readers).

This year the Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurter Buchmesse) is celebrating it 60th birthday. It started in 1949 - only four years after the end of the Second World War - with 205 publishers exhibiting their books (photo left).

Meanwhile the number has risen to more than 7100 publishing companies from 101 countries, presenting over 400,000 books on 172,000 square metres of exhibition space.

Each year there is also a special cultural focus connected with the fair, and this year the featured country is Turkey (only two years after Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature).

The organisers expect between 280,000 and 300,000 visitors over the five days of the fair.

For many years I have been a regular attendant of the Book Fair, which is the world's number one meeting place for publishers and book sellers, authors, editors, translators and literary agents, as well as the major cultural journalists from around the globe.
It always is a very special experience, even though it makes huge demands on one's physical stamina. Being on one's feet all day, from early morning to late at night, walking around and talking with many different people about many different books, ideas and new plans, is very exciting. But after the five days one needs always some days of rest to recover.

This year I will not be in Frankfurt myself, as I have other commitments here in Ireland. But some of my work will be there, which means I am present in spirit. And that is what really matters, the presence of one's words and ideas in the world's largest cultural market place.

The Emerald Islander

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