Monday, October 20, 2008

In Hall 8

Although we usually blog here about what goes on outside of Hall 8, the Frankfurt Book Fair’s English-language exhibition space, I actually spent the last several day in Hall 8. Separated from the rest of the exhibitors in terms of distance (allow 10 to 15 minutes to get from anywhere else on the fairgrounds to Hall 8), security (the only hall where bags are searched at the entrance), and atmosphere (we are all business all the time), it seems an appropriate place to put the Amis, Brits, Aussies, Canucks, Kiwis, etc. who publish in English. Our markets are huge and hard to break into.

I learned a great deal this year about the workings of Hall 8, most of which you experienced publishing people already know:

  • All the good stand receptions take place on Thursday night. It is rude not to drink a glass of wine at each reception, so be ready for an instant buzz and awesome networking opportunities.
  • If you exhibit in Hall 8, you should make friends with the people in Room 51. They have an endless supply of chocolate and information, and even if you do not already know them, they know a lot about you. I promise that this friendship will enhance your Frankfurt Book Fair experience.
  • The one person you should definitely know is Fred Kobrak. He is an honorary member of the Frankfurt Book Fair staff, and has been coming to the fair for 52 consecutive years. You can usually find him at the Information Stand in Hall 8. He knows more about the Frankfurt Book Fair and more people walking through the halls than most everyone else.
  • Chances are buzz books have already been acquired before the Fair. Rights directors and agents then come to the Fair in hopes of then selling foreign rights to their buzz books into as many other languages as possible.

Word in the Hall this year, as reported by the exhibitors who came to Room 51, was that the foot traffic was lighter this year, but that the business was good. Most of the appointments were kept (which is a real commitment after a long night at the Hof!), and the business that came from those appointments was encouraging. Exhibitors asked if the Fair expected any changes for 2009 as a result of the financial crisis. Judging from the number applications that have already been filed for 2009, the outlook is good. We also routinely hear from publishers that despite to cost of coming to the Frankfurt Book Fair, the cost of not coming would be even higher. Missing out on important deals and developments would be too great a loss.

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