Fewer exhibitors and 3G rule, but at least: there are books to touch again here. After the Frankfurt Book Fair had to take place digitally last year, the industry is pleased about the comeback in presence.

At the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair, Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters thanked the industry for their commitment to the Corona crisis. “Today we are celebrating the return of the literary and journalistic world to Frankfurt,” said Grütters. After a year and a half, “during which reading material was even more food for the soul than usual,” the fair was setting sail for a new departure, she explained.

Frankfurt Book Fair opens with only 2,000 exhibitors

Janine Hilpmann, HR, daily news 8 p.m., October 19, 2021

She would like to thank everyone involved “for the creativity and drive” with which they had kept the book industry alive. You are aware of how much authors, publishers and other creative people have suffered from the consequences of the pandemic, said Grütters. She hopes all the more that with the fair “many personal and entrepreneurial success stories will find their beginning or their continuation”.

More than 300 authors present their books

“Let’s not kid ourselves: ‘back to business’ is far from being ‘back to normal’”, said book fair boss Jürgen Boos at the beginning. And in fact, Frankfurt is still a long way from the pre-Corona period. While more than 300,000 people flocked to the site in 2019, a maximum of 25,000 guests per day may come in 2021. Two years ago, the number of exhibitors was 7500, almost four times as high. And yet: The motto of the 73rd Frankfurt – “Re: Connect” – shows that the industry is expecting a lot from the hall exhibition after the purely digital event last year.

The host country this year is Canada. The Governor General Mary May Simon traveled to the opening and the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood was connected live.

A total of 2000 publishers and companies from 80 countries are expected. More than 300 authors present their books or discuss social issues. One of the main topics in cooperation with the Franco-German television broadcaster Arte is “How do we want to live?” The 3G rule applies to the entire trade fair.

Controversy over New Right publishers

Meanwhile, the New Right publishers booth sparked controversy. Jasmina Kuhnke, who wanted to present her book “Schwarzes Herz” as a surprise guest, had canceled her appearance at the fair because of the Junge Europa publishing house represented there.

The presence of new right-wing publishers had already led to protests and a demonstration in 2017. The book fair defended itself: Freedom of expression is a valuable asset, stressed book fair boss Boos. “The book fair is the place that stands for it. And unfortunately we also have to endure opinions or the presence of people who I would not necessarily like to have here.”

After the 2020 Book Fair was only held digitally due to the pandemic, there will be another indoor exhibition and additional digital offers in 2021. The trade fair will be open to the specialist public from tomorrow, and then to all visitors from Friday. The fair ends on Sunday with the awarding of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade to Tsitsi Dangarembga from Zimbabwe.