Frankfurt Book Fair organisers have abandoned plans to have physical exhibitors this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has been announced.
Plans had been in place to hold a “special edition” in October mixing physical and virtual exhibitors. However, organisers said this was no longer feasible because of the pandemic and travel restrictions preventing country stands from exhibiting. Quarantine requirements to be introduced from 1st October would also make it "nearly impossible" for European visitors to participate.
The digital offering will still go ahead alongside some live events around the city and in the Festhalle. No UK publishers or agents contacted by The Bookseller had planned to attend physically, aside from a small group organised by the Publishers Association.
Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, chairwoman of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, said: “Frankfurter Buchmesse is not only the world’s largest book fair, it is also a constantly evolving enterprise. Lively, agile and adaptable. Given the current situation, this means a fair without an on-site exhibition in 2020 because of the more stringent corona restrictions being imposed once again. However, events in Frankfurt am Main and other cities will allow people to experience the thrill books can provide – live in Frankfurt, as well as through live streams and recordings accessible at the viewer’s convenience.”
Juergen Boos, director of Frankfurter Buchmesse, said: “Frankfurter Buchmesse thrives on international exchange. We would like to thank all exhibitors for their confidence and willingness to help realise a physical version of Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020.
“Now the focus will be on our digital offerings. We have expanded our numerous existing services in recent months into a detailed offer of digital services and online events. That means international publishing professionals will be able to use known and new digital venues to drive their business forward, even in times of corona. And the reading public will have the opportunity to express its enthusiasm for books in two ways: online and at events in Frankfurt.”
Among the digital tools being offered this year is the Frankfurt Rights programme, which allows companies to create an online rights catalogue. The professionals' programme includes further events during the book fair week and an online conference programme.