Frankfurt Book Fair is still expected to go ahead in October despite the coronavirus crisis, its president Juergen Boos has said.
Boos said organisers “cannot yet say” what the fair will look like but the health of those taking part was the organisers' highest priority. He added that a clearer picture would emerge in June.
He said: “Based on the information that is currently available, we expect Frankfurter Buchmesse to take place from 14th-18th October 2020. What Frankfurt’s 72nd book fair will look like exactly, we cannot yet say. What is already clear, however, is that it will be a very special event.
“We are incorporating the measures being discussed at the national and state levels into our planning on an ongoing basis, since our highest priority is the health of our exhibitors, trade visitors and the public. We will communicate any concrete developments as soon as they become known. It will probably be possible to provide a clearer picture as of mid-June.”
The coronavirus crisis has already led to the cancellation of key dates in the publishing calendar around the world including the London Book Fair, Bologna Children's Book Fair and a string of awards ceremonies.
Publishing figures contacted by The Bookseller this week seemed split on whether holding the fair in Frankfurt this autumn was welcome.
Literary agent Peter Cox of Redhammer Management said: "It's possible this might be the death knell of the physical book fair. It would be a shame but for years it hasn't really been necessary to do face-to-face. All the major deals that are announced at Frankfurt and the London Book Fair have been done in advance."
Curtis Brown chair Jonny Geller, meanwhile, said fairs like London and Frankfurt would have to be more innovative following the crisis and would have to “find clever ways to prove they are useful beyond maintaining personal contacts.”
However, Profile publisher Andrew Franklin said he hoped the Frankfurt Book Fair went ahead. He said: “Not having the London Book Fair means it’s even more important than usual. We really want to learn from other publishers; gauging their markets, what its been like, what its like in Italy and other parts of the world.I really hope it happens. I suspect it’s going to be smaller, there are going to be some publishers who won’t make it through and people will cut their costs.
“It’s not just rights, it’s sales, all the international booksellers are there, agents are there — it’s a very important showcase. It’s more important than ever for people to get together, and have a good time there."
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