Frankfurt Book Fair 2017
What! It’s been 6 months since I’ve updated here. Aughhh. Okay. I go back and forth between admiring publicists who keep their websites updated and make timely social media posts, and wondering how they do it. There is so much to keep up with, in the book world, in the world world…and sometimes I take one look at twitter and want to jump a flight to a remote island.
Last October, instead of a remote island, I flew to the Frankfurt Book Fair. #nerd. Publicists don’t generally go, and more than a couple lit agents told me not to bother, but I’ve been in publishing so long and it’s the biggest book fair in the world, so thanks to dirt cheap airfare and insatiable curiosity, I went. And it was wonderful. First off, Frankfurt is cool. It is an easy city to navigate, full of friendly people, has a beautiful river, and a food hall that was heaven. Secondly, the fair gave me what I went hoping to find: a new perspective. The Frankfurt Book Fair is massive: around 300,000 people attend – with 7300 exhibitors from over 100 countries, (as a contrast: Book Expo America is attended by 22,000 people). It was great running into agents, authors and foreign rights agents I already knew, but equally great to walk the many, many, (many!), halls seeing so many people I didn’t know, all speaking passionately in different languages about something I love so much. I met authors who sell millions of copies in their countries but are (pretty much completely) unknown in the US. And wondered, not for the first time, why that is. It blows my mind that we, (a country of immigrants). don’t look as much to the literature of other countries as our own. If millions (and I mean millions) of people are reading, for instance, Guillaume Musso (a French author translated into 24+ languages), shouldn’t our literary media at least shine a light on him? It made me want to pick a few of the top selling authors of various countries and a) read them and b) just start pitching them. (As far as Francophone authors though, I think (I hope!) the US media is about to get on the bandwagon of Leila Slimani when her 2016 Prix Goncourt winning novel Chanson douce, comes out here next week as The Perfect Nanny. On va voir…). I appreciated that the emphasis at the Frankfurt Book Fair is laser-focussed on the author rather than, it seemed, on any individual book. At Frankfurt, exhibitor booths were adorned with author photos and their signatures, more than
book jackets, and it seemed like publishers took pride in their author’s entire career. And that celebration of The Author, as a publicist and as a reader, was a pleasure to see.