Political Undertones at the FIBF: Can the Book Industry Forge a New Europe?

Germany and France put forward a united front at the publishing industry’s most important trade fair

Frankfurt International Book Fair (FIBF), dubbed as a truly European fair, highlights the importance of meaningful dialogue in today’s volatile political and social atmosphere. Juergen Boos, president and CEO of FIBF, echoed the same outlook at a recently held press conference in line with the organization’s bid for a more central role in the global social shifts and initiatives.

“When world affairs become confusing, when deep rifts mark most societies and when fake news challenges journalistic reporting, the desire for trustworthy sources of information, solid knowledge and well-researched news grows. This makes publishers enormously important—a responsibility they know they have,” said Boos.

In a recently launched three-part discussion format called Weltempfang Satellites—FIBF’s center for politics, literature, and translation—Boos played host to prominent writers and public figures during the five-day book fair and talked about pertinent social issues. Boos set an open conversation with investigative journalists Åsne Seierstad and Hans Leyendecker about the expanding influence of fake news at the opening day of the fair. The next day was a detailed briefing on living and writing as an exile with Can Dündar and Burhan Sönmez. Lastly, Thomas Wagner (author of Die Angstmacher) and Gerald Hensel (founder of Fearless Democracy) joined him on stage to speculate and offer a better understanding on the rise of the New Right.

With France as the guest of honor this year, President Emmanuel Macron joined with over 260 French publishers and exhibitors at the fair. Works from renowned French authors—including Philippe Dijan, Michel Houellebecq, Édouard Louis, Alain Mabanckou, Yasmina Reza, and many more—were highlighted during the event. The French language, which is spoken in eighty countries all over the world, and literature were much celebrated during the book fair’s confirmed attendees of around 278,000 and over 7,150 exhibitors.

Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, opened the event together with President Emmanuel Marcon. The publishing industry’s distinguished names were also in attendance, including Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood, Cecelia Ahern, Paula Hawkins, Nicholas Sparks, Daniel Kehlmann, Paul Maar, Ken Folliet, and many more.

On the self-publishing spectrum, LitFire Publishing, the only participating self-publishing company from Atlanta, Georgia, featured over 130 unique book titles during the event. LitFire also lead a number of book fair and festival participation this year. The company exhibited at major publishing industry gathering including the American Library Association (ALA) Atlanta Midwinter Meeting and Conferences, London Book Fair, Paris Book Fair, and Tucson Festival of Books on the first quarter. Followed by the BookExpo America, BookCon, and ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition on the second quarter. The most recent ones include Beijing International Book Fair and AJC Decatur Book Festival. LitFire will be joining the Miami Book Fair—its eleventh book fair participation and the last one for this quarter—for the first time this year. Learn more on how you can partner up with them at local and international book fairs by visiting www.litfirepublishing.com.