Frankfurt, Day 4

Days 4 and 5 are open to the public. The English-language publishers are averse to the public and most of them pack up and leave on Friday to avoid it (leaving interns and assistants behind of course). These publishers are avoiding a whole bunch of nothing, however, because very few people come out to Hall 8, mostly because nobody is here. A vicious cycles ensues, allowing me and everyone else ample time to fart around (or blog, whatever). Most of the people who come through here are either lost, or hearty and intrepid readers in search of something specific.

I went over to Hall 3 to hear former Frankfurt Book Fair director Peter Weidhaas speak about his new book. He is a very charismatic speaker and the book fair’s biggest fan (after Fred Kobrak, of course). The aisles were packed full of awe-struck people. I was one of them. The stands were big and showy, designed with cool, swooping bookshelves and elegantly displayed books. These publishers stick around for the public days to interact with their readers and build brand recognition. The average German reader has a much better knowledge of individual publishers and their programs than American readers do.

Last night, I listened in on a conversation between some German publishing people that was somewhat enlightening. On the last day of the fair, the Germans sell their books to the public (at full price because they have a law about that here). The people I was talking to were saying, oh come by our stand and I’ll save a copy of such-and-such book for you to buy. The attitude in Hall 8 would be, come by our stand and I’ll give you a book. I have no idea why publishers would sell these books to each other. This is certainly a matter to follow up on.

After a very nice dinner in Oberursel with some friends, I went home. Earlier I had planned to be fabulous and intellectual at the Frankfurter Hof, but my eyes wouldn’t stay open. Plus, being nice to the public is hard when you are hung over.


Author: Hannah Johnson

When I first came to New York City, I almost ran over Liza Minelli with my suitcase. Then I got a job in book publishing.

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