Frankfurt Book Fair

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Frankfurter Buchmesse
Frankfurter Buchmesse 2011 logo.svg
Exhibition hall in 2008
FrequencyAnnually, in mid-October
VenueFrankfurt Trade Fair grounds
Location(s)Frankfurt am Main
Inaugurated17th century
modern era: 1949

The Frankfurt Book Fair (German: Frankfurter Buchmesse, FBM) is the world's largest trade fair for books, based on the number of publishing companies represented. It is considered to be the most important book fair in the world for international deals and trading. The five-day annual event in mid-October is held at the Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The first three days are restricted exclusively to professional visitors; the general public attend the fair on the weekend.

Several thousand exhibitors representing book publishing, multimedia and technology companies, as well as content providers from all over the world gather in order to negotiate international publishing rights and license fees. The fair is organised by Frankfurter Buchmesse GmbH, a subsidiary of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. More than 7,300 exhibitors from over 100 countries and more than 286,000 visitors took part in the year 2017.[1]


The Frankfurter Buchmesse with the fair's tower (Messeturm, 2004)

The Frankfurter Buchmesse, or Frankfurt Book Fair, has a tradition spanning more than 500 years. Before the advent of printed books, the general trade fair in Frankfurt was the place for selling handwritten books, as early as the 12th century.[2] A printers' and publishers' fair became established sometime in the decades after Johannes Gutenberg developed printing in movable letters in Mainz near Frankfurt; although no official founding date of the Frankfurt Book Fair is documented, it had definitely been established by 1462, the year that the printers Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer, who had taken over Gutenberg's printing operations after a legal dispute, moved their operations to Frankfurt.[3]

The fair became the primary point for book marketing, but also a hub for the diffusion of written texts. During the Reformation, the fair was attended by merchants testing the market for new books and by scholars looking for newly available scholarship.[4]

Until the end of the 17th century, the Frankfurter Buchmesse was the most important book fair in Europe.[citation needed] It was eclipsed in 1632 by the Leipzig Book Fair during the Enlightenment as a consequence of political and cultural developments.[5] After World War II, the first book fair was held again in 1949 at the St. Paul's Church. Since then, it has regained its preeminent position.[citation needed]


The Frankfurter Buchmesse is the world's largest trade fair for books, based both on the number of publishing companies represented, and the number of visitors.[6] It is considered to be the most important book fair in the world for international deals and trading.[citation needed] It is a critical marketing event for launching books and to facilitate the negotiation of the international sale of rights and licences.[citation needed] Book publishing-, multimedia- and technology companies, as well as content providers from all over the world gather.[citation needed] Publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, academics, illustrators, service providers, film producers, translators, professional and trade associations, institutions, artists, authors, antiquarians, software and multimedia suppliers all participate in the events.[citation needed] Visitors take the opportunity to obtain information about the publishing market, to network, and to do business.


The fair is organised by Frankfurter Buchmesse GmbH, a subsidiary of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association.[7] The five-day annual event in mid-October is held at the Frankfurt Trade Fair grounds in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The first three days are restricted exclusively to trade visitors; the general public can attend on the weekend, for a fee.[citation needed]

In 2009, 7,314 exhibitors from some 100 countries presented over 400,000 books. Some 300,000 visitors attended the fair.[citation needed]

In 2016, more than 10,000 journalists from 75 countries reported on the fair, which brought together 7,135 exhibitors from 106 countries, and more than 172,296 trade visitors.[citation needed]

Events and joint ventures[edit]

Frankfurt book fair 2016

The Peace Prize of the German Book Trade has been awarded at the fair each year since 1950 during a ceremony in the Frankfurter Paulskirche.

The fair awards the Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year, humoring the book with the oddest title.

Certain initiatives would not exist without the Frankfurter Buchmesse and are closely linked to its goals and, up to a point, management structure.[citation needed]

On the occasion of the 1980 Fair, Litprom was founded – the Society for the Promotion of African, Asian and Latin American Literature. As a non profit association, it monitors literary trends and selects the best examples of creative writing from Africa, Asia and Latin America for translation into German. It promotes them in Germany, Switzerland and Austria by encouraging contacts between authors and publishers from the Third World and those in German-speaking countries. It serves as an information hub and clearing house about literature from Africa, Asia and Latin America, establishing a forum of debate about "Third World" literature.[citation needed]

In 2006, Litcam, a campaign against illiteracy was founded. In this context, the 2007 Frankfurt Book Fair also started a short story project named "Who's on the line? Call for free" by and for people with migration background.[citation needed]

Guest of honour, focus of interest[edit]

Turkey's Guest of Honour pavilion in 2008

Since 1976, a guest of honour, or a focus of interest is named for the fair. A special literary programme is organised for the occasion (readings, arts exhibitions, public discussion panels, theatre productions, and radio and TV programmes). A special exhibition hall is set up for the guest country, and the major publishing houses are present at the fair. Canada's presentation as 2020 guest of honour was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[8]

Year Guest of honour / Focus of interest Motto
1976 Latin America Latin American literature
1978 Kind und Buch (Child and book)
1980 Subsaharan Africa
1982 Religions
1984 George Orwell
1986 India Indian literature Wandel in Tradition (Change in tradition)
1988 Italy Italian literature Italienisches Tagebuch (Italian diary)
1989 France French literature L'Automne français (French autumn)
1990 Japan Japanese literature Then and Now
1991 Spain Spanish literature La Hora de España (Spain's hour)
1992 Mexico Mexican literature Ein offenes Buch (An open book)
1993 Flanders and the Netherlands Flemish and Dutch literature Weltoffen (Open-minded)
1994 Brasil Brazilian literature Begegnung von Kulturen (Encounter of cultures)
1995 Austria Austrian literature
1996 Ireland Irish literature Und seine Diaspora (And its diaspora)
1997 Portugal Portuguese literature Wege in die Welt (Paths into the world)
1998 Switzerland Swiss literature Hoher Himmel – enges Tal (High skies – narrow valleys)
1999 Hungary Hungarian literature Unbegrenzt (unlimited)
2000 Poland Polish literature ©Poland
2001 Greece Greek literature Neue Wege nach Ithaka (New ways to Ithaka)
2002 Lithuania Lithuanian literature Fortsetzung folgt (To be continued)
2003 Russia Russian literature Neue Seiten (New pages/perspectives)
2004 Arab world Arab literature Arabische Welt
2005 Korea Korean literature Enter Korea
2006 India Indian literature Today's India
2007 Catalan Countries Catalan literature Singular i Universal (Singular and general)
2008 Turkey Turkish literature Faszinierend farbig (Fascinatingly colourful)
2009 China Chinese literature Tradition & Innovation
2010 Argentina Argentine literature Kultur in Bewegung (Culture in motion)
2011 Iceland Icelandic literature Sagenhaftes Island (Fabulous Iceland)
2012 New Zealand New Zealand literature Bevor es bei euch hell wird (While you were sleeping)
2013 Brazil Brazilian literature Ein Land voller Stimmen
2014 Finland Finnish literature Finnland. Cool.
2015 Indonesia Indonesian literature 17.000 Inseln der Imagination (17.000 Islands of Imagination)
2016 Flanders and the Netherlands Flemish and Dutch literature Dies ist, was wir teilen (This is what we share)
2017 France French literature Francfort en français (Frankfurt in French)
2018 Georgia Georgian literature Georgia made by characters
2019 Norway Norwegian literature The Dream We Carry (Der Traum in uns)
2020 Canada Canadian literature Singular Plurality (Singulier Pluriel)
2021 Canada Canadian literature Singular Plurality (Singulier Pluriel)
2022 Spain Spanish literature Creatividad Desbordante (Spilling Creativity)


The 2007 fair attracted criticism from both the Spanish and German media. German news magazine Der Spiegel described it as "closed-minded" for its policy of not including the many Catalans who write in Spanish in its definition of Catalan literature.[9] The decision to exclude any element of "Spanishness", defined as literature exclusively done in Spanish, from the fair was made in spite of the fact that the Spanish government contributed more than 6 million euros towards the cost of the fair.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Frankfurt Book Fair. "The Frankfurt Book Fair 2017 in numbers".
  2. ^ Weidhaas, Peter (2007). A History of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Translated and edited by Carolyn Gossage and W A. Wright. Toronto, Ontario: Dundurn Press. pp. 11, 23–24. ISBN 978-1-55002-744-0.
  3. ^ Weidhaas (2007), p. 25.
  4. ^ Fried, Johannes (1996). Il mercante e la scienza: sul rapporto tra sapere ed economia nel Medioevo. Milano: Vita e Pensiero.
  5. ^ "The Frankfurt Book Fair – The World's Biggest, Oldest Book Event". The Balance. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Debates on cultural identity and on intellectual property set the tone at FBM16".
  7. ^ "Get to know Frankfurter Buchmesse".
  8. ^ "Frankfurter Buchmesse – Guest of Honour – Canada 2020". Archived from the original on 24 September 2020.
  9. ^ A Controversial Homage to Catalonia: Commerce Replaces Politics at the Frankfurt Book Fair – International – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News
  10. ^ "Economía/Empresas.- Industria destinará 6 millones para promocionar el sector editorial de cara a la Feria de Frankfurt". Economía Ahoy. Retrieved 6 October 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°06′41″N 8°38′54″E / 50.11139°N 8.64833°E / 50.11139; 8.64833