Once a year, the Frankfurt Book Fair becomes the Global City of Ideas: the most important international trading place for content, from novels and children’s books to academic databases. Publishing professionals from around the world meet here with partners from the technology sector and from related creative industries, such as film and games; it is here that new cooperation agreements and business models find their first inspiration. At the same time, the Book Fair is also a huge cultural event which, for five days every year, turns Frankfurt on the Main into the centre of the international media world.
Every year, about 7,300 exhibitors from more than 100 countries, around 275,000 visitors, more than 4,000 events, 9,000 journalists and over 1,000 bloggers all combine to make the Frankfurt Book Fair the biggest trade fair for the international publishing industry. The number of international visitors is constantly growing. One reason for this is that the Book Fair has long maintained an ardent commitment to the idea of “crossing borders”. For more than 20 years, in its B2B activities, Frankfurt has been open to the digital transition and the new players this brings with it: film and games professionals, business developers, IT specialists, investors, start-ups, bloggers and many more besides, now feel well and truly at home in Frankfurt. And the Book Fair is constantly developing new services and products, such as the Self-Publishing Area, which was launched to great success in 2013, and the Frankfurt Hot Spots – the meeting places for digital innovators.
Frankfurt has also been transcending borders since 1976 with its biggest crowd-puller: the invitation to a different country each year to be the Guest of Honour, presenting its book market, literature and culture to the Book Fair visitors in many different ways. This allows a large number of authors from the respective country to visit Frankfurt, and at the same time, a support programme of exhibitions and performances makes each appearance unique. As part of its year as Guest of Honour, every country also organises an extensive international translation funding programme. In 2013, Brazil was the Frankfurt Book Fair’s Guest of Honour; in 2014 it was Finland and in 2015 Indonesia.
With the formation of the Frankfurt Book Fair Business Club, the Frankfurt Book Fair now offers the ideal business environment for companies, publishers, entrepreneurs, pioneers, experts and visionaries. A prestigious programme of conferences ensures that Frankfurt is the leading source of inspiration for content experts from around the world. During the week of the Book Fair, national and international events are held, addressing the major topics of the industry. These include CONTEC Frankfurt and the all-media conference StoryDrive, as well as the International Rights Directors Meeting (RDM). With around 400 participants, the RDM is the most important conference on the rights trade worldwide. Other elements of the Business Club include networking, consulting, guided tours and business lounges.
About 9,000 international journalists report from the Frankfurt Book Fair. At the same time, the publishers and content professionals from around the world also act as multipliers. As such, the Book Fair generates huge media interest, both in the German-speaking countries and globally. For the Frankfurt Book Fair, it is an important task to contribute actively to shaping this public image, either through its own events, or through social media, the Frankfurt Book Fair Blog, the Frankfurt Quarterly magazine, or the website www.book-fair.com.
The organisation behind the Frankfurt Book Fair is the Ausstellungs- und Messe GmbH (AuM). With its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, this is a subsidiary of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels). As the foreign trade body of the German book trade, the AuM holds a cultural-political mandate to represent the German book industry around the world, and to promote international cultural exchanges and the free dissemination of the written word. To this end, it represents the German book industry with collective stands at more than 20 international book fairs worldwide; it organises guest of honour appearances by Germany, and is involved in support programmes, such as the fellowship and invitational programmes, to enhance professionalism in the book industry. In its four offices abroad, in New Delhi, Beijing, New York and Moscow, the Book Fair also contributes to greater professionalism in publishing at an international level.
The Ausstellungs- und Messe GmbH has been organising the Frankfurt Book Fair since 1949. However, the book fair tradition stretches back a lot further. In the Middle Ages, soon after Johannes Gutenberg invented printing not far from Frankfurt, a "Büchermess" was already held here on the banks of the River Main. Today, besides organising the Book Fair itself, the company is busy year-round with activities for the international publishing industry.