Frankfurt Book Fair & Patti Smith

22 October 2023

This week I’ve been in Frankfurt to represent Otago University Press at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the oldest and largest trade book fair in the world. It’s seriously huge, sprawling over four multi-level stadium-size halls and accommodating publishing industry professionals from over 100 countries.

Frankfurt Book Fair

The first three days of the five-day fair are trade only and the halls hum as publishers and distributors get down to business, exploring rights options and building international contacts. The Frankfurt Trade Centre turns into a small city of ‘suburbs’ and alleyways, cafes, food stalls and  ‘town square’ areas for talks and events. Every booth has its own address. Otago University Press was one of several Aotearoa publishers sharing the  PANZ (Publishers Association of New Zealand) stand in Hall 6 (enter through security, ascend the escalator, walk a few hundred metres on the travelator, turn left), Level 0 (descend two flights by escalator), Aisle D (along past Canada, turn left at Hachette), Booth 58.

Frankfurt Book Fair
NZ publishers at the Frankfurt Book Fair with NZ Ambassador to Germany, Craig Hawke (3rd from right).

While we publishers came and went all day, hosting meetings in the booth or attending meetings elsewhere, our distinctive manu-themed home base was looked after by Catriona Ferguson (PANZ) with local helpers Christiane, Joy and Sophie. 

Brankfurt Book Fair
Sophie, Joy, Catriona and Christiane

Alongside the planned and expected meetings, there were plenty of moments when serendipitous encounters lead to stimulating conversations. But serendipity was in the air from the time we arrived in Frankfurt on Tuesday night, expecting simply to get to our accommodation, unpack and have an early night. But… Patti Smith happened to be playing in Frankfurt, a serendipity that could not be ignored. Her concert was booked out but – more serendipity – concert-goers in the queue at the door had 2 tickets spare. Patti Smith and band gave a wonderful concert, and her wisdom, poetry and song have continued to resonate all week as we’ve talked about the importance of books and literature to the world’s good future: look after your freedom, look after the children, build a peaceable kingdom. Thank you, Patti.

Patti Smith

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1 Comment
    1. Awesome! Well done, Sue. Patti was a bonus! Great video. xxRachel

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