The Frankfurter Buchmesse (FBM) is the world's largest trade fair for books, based both on the number of publishing companies represented, and the number of visitors. It is considered to be the most important book fair in the world for international deals and trading. The five-day annual event in mid-October is held at the Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The first three days are restricted exclusively to professional visitors; the general public attend the fair on the weekend.
Several thousand exhibitors representing book publishing, multimedia and technology companies, as well as content providers from all over the world gather in order to negotiate international publishing rights and license fees. The fair is organised by Frankfurter Buchmesse GmbH, a subsidiary of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. More than 7,300 exhibitors from over 100 countries and more than 286,000 visitors took part in the year 2017.
Exhibition Hall in 2008
|Frequency||Annually, in mid-October|
|Venue||Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds|
|Location(s)||Frankfurt am Main|
modern era: 1949
The Frankfurter Buchmesse has a tradition spanning more than 500 years. In 1454, soon after Johannes Gutenberg had developed printing in movable letters in Mainz near Frankfurt, the first book fair was held by local booksellers.
Before the advent of printed books a general trade fair in Frankfurt was the place for selling manuscripts. The beginning of a fair focused on printed books is attributed to Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer, who had taken over Gutenberg's printing operations after a legal dispute. The fair became the primary point for book marketing, but also a hub for the diffusion of written texts. During the Reformation, the fair was attended by merchants testing the market for new books and by scholars looking for newly available scholarship.
Until the end of the 17th century, the Frankfurter Buchmesse was the most important book fair in Europe. It was eclipsed in 1632 by the Leipzig Book Fair during the Enlightenment as a consequence of political and cultural developments. After World War II, the first book fair was held again in 1949 at the St. Paul's Church. Since then, it has regained its preeminent position.
The Frankfurter Buchmesse is the world's largest trade fair for books, based both on the number of publishing companies represented, and the number of visitors. It is considered to be the most important book fair in the world for international deals and trading. It is a critical marketing event for launching books and to facilitate the negotiation of the international sale of rights and licences. Book publishing-, multimedia- and technology companies, as well as content providers from all over the world gather. Publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, academics, illustrators, service providers, film producers, translators, professional and trade associations, institutions, artists, authors, antiquarians, software and multimedia suppliers all participate in the events. Visitors take the opportunity to obtain information about the publishing market, to network, and to do business.
The fair is organised by Frankfurter Buchmesse GmbH, a subsidiary of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. The five-day annual event in mid-October is held at the Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The first three days are restricted exclusively to trade visitors; the general public can attend on the weekend, for a fee.
In 2009, 7,314 exhibitors from some 100 countries presented over 400,000 books. Some 300,000 visitors attended the fair.
In 2016, more than 10,000 journalists from 75 countries reported on the fair, which brought together 7,135 exhibitors from 106 countries, and more than 172,296 trade visitors.
The fair awards the Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year, humoring the book with the oddest title.
Certain initiatives would not exist without the Frankfurter Buchmesse and are closely linked to its goals and, up to a point, management structure.
On the occasion of the 1980 Fair, Litprom was founded - the Society for the Promotion of African, Asian and Latin American Literature. As a non profit association, it monitors literary trends and selects the best examples of creative writing from Africa, Asia and Latin America for translation into German.It promotes them in Germany, Switzerland and Austria by encouraging contacts between authors and publishers from the Third World and those in German-speaking countries. It serves as an information hub and clearing house about literature from Africa, Asia and Latin America, establishing a forum of debate about "Third World" literature.
In 2006, Litcam, a campaign against illiteracy was founded. In this context, the 2007 Frankfurt Book Fair also started a short story project named "Who's on the line? Call for free" by and for people with migration background.
Since 1976, a guest of honour, or a focus of interest is named for the fair. A special literary programme is organised for the occasion (readings, arts exhibitions, public discussion panels, theatre productions, and radio and TV programmes). A special exhibition hall is set up for the guest country, and the major publishing houses are present at the fair.
|Year||Guest of honour / Focus of interest||Motto|
|1976||Latin America||Latin American literature|
|1978||Kind und Buch (Child and book)|
|1986||India||Indian literature||Wandel in Tradition (Change in tradition)|
|1988||Italy||Italian literature||Italienisches Tagebuch (Italian diary)|
|1989||France||French literature||L’Automne français (French autumn)|
|1990||Japan||Japanese literature||Then and Now|
|1991||Spain||Spanish literature||La Hora de España (Spain's hour)|
|1992||Mexico||Mexican literature||Ein offenes Buch (An open book)|
|1993||Flanders and the Netherlands||Flemish and Dutch literature||Weltoffen (Open-minded)|
|1994||Brasil||Brazilian literature||Begegnung von Kulturen (Encounter of cultures)|
|1996||Ireland||Irish literature||Und seine Diaspora (And its diaspora)|
|1997||Portugal||Portuguese literature||Wege in die Welt (Paths into the world)|
|1998||Switzerland||Swiss literature||Hoher Himmel – enges Tal (High skies – narrow valleys)|
|1999||Hungary||Hungarian literature||Unbegrenzt (unlimited)|
|2001||Greece||Greek literature||Neue Wege nach Ithaka (New ways to Ithaka)|
|2002||Lithuania||Lithuanian literature||Fortsetzung folgt (To be continued)|
|2003||Russia||Russian literature||Neue Seiten (New pages/perspectives)|
|2004||Arab world||Arab literature||Arabische Welt|
|2005||Korea||Korean literature||Enter Korea|
|2006||India||Indian literature||Today’s India|
|2007||Catalan Countries||Catalan literature||Singular i Universal (Singular and general)|
|2008||Turkey||Turkish literature||Faszinierend farbig (Fascinatingly colourful)|
|2009||China||Chinese literature||Tradition & Innovation|
|2010||Argentina||Argentine literature||Kultur in Bewegung (Culture in motion)|
|2011||Iceland||Icelandic literature||Sagenhaftes Island (Fabulous Iceland)|
|2012||New Zealand||New Zealand literature||Bevor es bei euch hell wird (While you were sleeping)|
|2013||Brazil||Brazilian literature||Ein Land voller Stimmen|
|2014||Finland||Finnish literature||Finnland. Cool.|
|2015||Indonesia||Indonesian literature||17.000 Inseln der Imagination (17.000 Islands of Imagination)|
|2016||Flanders and the Netherlands||Flemish and Dutch literature||Dies ist, was wir teilen (This is what we share)|
|2017||France||French literature||Francfort en français (Frankfurt in French)|
The 2007 fair attracted criticism from both the Spanish and German media. German news magazine Der Spiegel described it as "closed-minded" for its policy of not including the many Catalans who write in Spanish in its definition of Catalan literature. The decision to exclude any element of "Spanishness", defined as literature exclusively done in Spanish, from the fair was made in spite of the fact that the Spanish government contributed more than 6 million euros towards the cost of the fair.