Publishers and agents at the 66th Frankfurt Book Fair have felt “buoyant” with growing confidence about the state of the industry, though some noted the halls of the Messe were less busy than in previous years.
Penguin Random House c.e.o. Markus Dohle was excited about this year’s fair, his 20th time at Frankfurt. He said: “The energy is truly upbeat and positive. People have embraced digital and the ongoing transformation it brings, and are optimistic about the future. If you work in books, Frankfurt is the place to be this week.”
For Stephen Page, c.e.o. and publisher at Faber & Faber, this FBF was a “good, business-as-usual fair”. He added: “Some markets feel more buoyant. There is still a sense of change in the air. The general conversations have been quite good without being certain of what’s coming next. But it does feel a little quieter than last year on [the last day of the fair].”
Rebecca Smart, m.d. of PRH’s Ebury division, noted both a confidence and a reduced footfall. She said: “I think there is a confidence and I think that, from what colleagues have told me, they feel like there have been some bigger people committing to bigger books than in recent years. It feels buzzing, but it is noticeable that there are fewer stands.”
Digital was an obvious talking point in the halls, with many Anglophone publishers pointing to the increased interest in other territories. Michael Bhaskar, digital publisher at Profile, said: “I am talking to more European publishers about our digital products this year than in any [previous] year. I think it reflects that there has been more digital growth in Europe over the past year, and interest has been building gradually. This is the most interest I have seen.”
However, it was not all about digital. Chris Zeiher, sales and marketing director for Asia Pacific at Lonely Planet, said: “Most people have been talking about growth and talking about growth in physical products, which has been particularly pleasing."