The Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest, celebrated its return on Tuesday, but with fewer big names in attendance and star author Margaret Atwood, who only joined by video link, was not quite at it returned to its former glory.
After going almost entirely digital in 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, this year’s show will once again see publishers, booksellers, authors and readers come face to face.
But it will be a more low-key version of previous editions, as uncertainty over travel restrictions has kept many international visitors away. All grow up! Angelina Jolie at the “Eternals” premiere with her five children
“Getting back to business doesn’t mean getting back to normal,” said fair director Juergen Boos at the opening, but the event nonetheless offered a chance for the industry to “reconnect”, he said. -he adds.
Award-winning novelist Margaret Atwood, whose native Canada is this year’s guest of honor, took part in the opening ceremony via Skype to deliver a message of hope.
“Covid and the climate crisis have shown us how fragile we are as human beings,” she said. “But we’ve also shown how resilient, inventive and creative we can be.”
The books had helped people escape the isolation of the pandemic and make sense of the world, said Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Oscars: Iceland selects ‘Lamb’ as international feature film submission
“Books are both time travel devices and empathy machines. They take us to distant lands, allow us to enter other worlds,” she added.
– Young readers –
The show, which opens to trade visitors on Wednesday before welcoming the general public later in the week, continues through Sunday.
This comes from the fact that the book industry “has been doing pretty well over the past 18 months,” according to Boos, with people in many countries using the slower pace of life during the lockdown to find out more – teens specifically.
In the United States, sales of printed books rose more than eight percent in 2020 to record their best year in a decade, according to research group NPD.
Growth was driven by teenage categories, but also adult non-fiction as people turned to cookbooks and craft books to pass the time at home. BTS member Suga releases remix of his song with Coldplay ‘My Universe’
In Germany, the largest book market in the European Union, bookstores have taken advantage of closures to expand their online sales, leading to a 20% increase in internet revenues to 2.2 billion euros (2.5 billion euros). of dollars). Audiobooks and e-books also saw double-digit growth.
“The book industry has passed the Covid stress test,” said Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, president of the German Association of Publishers and Booksellers.
– Christmas concerns –
But not all news for the industry is good.
The book trade, with global revenues of around $ 100 billion a year, is not immune to commodity shortages and supply chain issues disrupting economies as countries recover. of the coronavirus crisis.
As the crucial Christmas holiday season approaches, publishers are sounding the alarm bells about paper shortages, bottlenecks at shipping ports and higher transportation costs.
“I am afraid that at Christmas people will not be sure that they will have any book at short notice,” Jonathan Beck, director of the famous German publishing house CH Beck, told the financial daily Handelsblatt.
Books could also become more expensive, he warned.
– Covid borders –
This week’s Frankfurt rally is the latest example of trade shows coming back to life, and comes after the German city of Munich welcomed 400,000 visitors to the IAA motor show in September.
The number of daily visitors is however capped at 25,000, less than half of the usual capacity. Frankfurt festival-goers must also wear masks and show proof of vaccination, recovery from Covid or a negative test.
Over 2,000 exhibitors from over 80 countries are present, well below the 7,500 exhibitors from over 100 countries present in 2019.
Some 300 authors are to come, including Canadians Michel Jean, Dany Laferrière and Michael Crummey.
But compared to previous years that Atwood, Ken Follett, Cecelia Ahern, and Nicholas Sparks visited, this year’s event doesn’t have the same star power.
Several large publishing houses are also staying on the sidelines, preferring to participate online instead.
As a result, much of the usual networking and haggling over license and translation rights will take place on the digital platforms of the fair.