A Very Belated Frankfurt Book Fair Wrap-Up

10/19/2014 02:45:00 pm

Sorry for the delay in posting this but once I got back from the Frankfurt Book Fair, I had a mountain of work to do and then ended up getting horrendously ill. Now that I am (mostly) recovered, I can finally sum up my experience at the fair.

I'm not sure what I was expecting from the book fair. I'd been to AWP before but that doesn't even come close to the Frankfurt experience. An AWP attendee doesn't need a shuttle to get to different parts of the fair. An attendee at Frankfurt does, lest your feet fall off and die halfway through the fair. RIP my feet.

Basically, this book fair is gigantic. Here's a map:

Image via It's A Book Thing
On top of the massive scale of the fair, I wasn't expecting to feel so... excluded. If you're planning to go to the fair as a hopeful writer or someone just trying to get into the industry, you may want to just save your time. If you don't know someone there with the capabilities to get you meetings with the publishers, you're probably gonna have a bad time. I was lucky enough that my lecturers had scheduled meetings throughout the day with editors at various publishers and I ended up making conversation with several other publishers as I worked my way through the bookstore. Either way, most places I popped into to look at the books, I was ignored. Basically, if you're not anyone, you're basically invisible. That sounds a lot more angry and resentful than I actually feel about the book fair. I really did enjoy the experience but, it's very unlike AWP where editors willingly have fantastic and exciting conversations with you if you pop by their booth.

You also can't buy books which was weird. A place surrounded by walls and walls of book and you can't buy any of them. Seriously.

Look at all these books. And I couldn't buy any of them. SOB.

I did however get given a really beautiful book from Aladin books by Kerstin Lundburg Hahn called Der Schatten an meiner Wand. It's entirely in German so I can't read it but the cover is gorgeous and the editors were happy to have a conversation about book cover production decisions with a couple of lowly publishing students. It was a highlight of the trip for me.

I don't want to sound like I regret going because I don't. I think it was a wise decision to go on the trip as a student and understand how the book fair works and what it feels like to be in there, navigating among the people and editors. It was nice to be able to take a step back and be like... okay... I might be here in a year or two on the other side of this booth and understand what that means and the kind of work I'd be doing. And as a student, I think that experience in itself is invaluable.

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