Anger has grown at Frankfurt Book Fair’s plans to move the Literary Agents & Scouts Centre (LitAg) next year, with a petition being launched during this year’s fair to attempt to reverse the move.
A fortnight ago FBF said it would move the LitAg from Hall 6.3 to the Festhalle, a standalone building at the fair’s east entrance, claiming it was "without any other option" as Frankfurter Messe, the grounds’ owner, is undergoing a multi-year renovation.
Lora Fountain, m.d. of Paris-based Agence Littéraire Lora Fountain & Associates, said French agents and publishers are "furious" at the decision. She has launched a petition, "gaining support by the day", to block the move. She said the new location would make having back-to-back 30-minute meetings "unworkable", adding: "We have to think about how much business we will miss out on. I don’t think [rights professionals] could boycott Frankfurt, but I can easily see agents going as trade visitors... We could see a mass desertion in the LitAg. I’d rather pitch a tent in the Agora than be in the Festhalle."
Charlie Brotherstone of Brotherstone Creative Management agreed: "It makes sense for the LitAg to be close to publishers. I’m not surprised people are upset. We saw this [issue] when London Book Fair moved from Earl’s Court to Olympia, and the distances were much smaller."
Yet others sounded more conciliatory notes. Andrew Nurnberg, who sits on the LitAg advisory board, said: "Trade fairs are all beholden to changes determined by the owners of the grounds, and if the latter decides to close or develop part of the site, exhibitors have to adapt."
FBF director Jürgen Boos wrote to agents stating: "I am sorry that the move has raised so many issues... I would like to assure all of you that the agents and scouts will always be important to us and that the Buchmesse will continue to subsidise the costs of the LitAg." FBF organisers and the LitAg advisory board will meet this Friday (12th October) to exchange views.