Frankfurter BuchMesse 6-10 Oktober 2010 (english version)


Let us begin in statistic & journalistic, so that to avoid dramatic effects. In between 6 – 10 of October 2010, the largest international book fair in the world takes place in Frankfurt, with a participation of nearly 10 000 exhibitors, from over 100 countries. Publishing houses from all parts come to show books, magazines, maps, multimedia products, works of art, calendars a.s.o. On brief, very much everything included in the era of mechanical & digital reproduction can be found, visited, bought and sold on the area of an over 100 hectares book fair, covered by the 11 pavilions equipped with all the SF communicational facilities provided by the wonders of the post-modern, post-Bauhaus and post-u-name-it technique.
To some, such as the exhibitors included in an Invitation Programme, the fair began on October 2nd, with a series of workshops on book design (held by Uta Schneider), their marketing (Gabriele Rubner), copyright and licenses (Kerstin Schuster and Susanne Koppe). Countries such as Cameroon, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunis, The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, Venezuela, Moldova and Montenegro, considered to be countries with “difficult markets” for books, had the opportunity of few days of intensive workshops, with view to presences to stand up to all the Gallimard and Randomhouses in the world. For some others, the fair began on October 5th, at 5 p.m. sharp, when it was officially opened, but for the most, however – today, October 6th. And today, October 6th, I’ve walked around more than I did in my entire life. And managed to flicker through 3 pavilions. With no. 3 you may find anything in the range of Fiction, Non-Fiction, Religion, Tourism, Gourmet Gallery, Children Books and Comics; with 4 – modern antiquarian, Nonbooks, Publishing Solutions and Book Trade Services, contemporary and less contemporary art galleries, Art Books, purely art or design, as well as academic writings, histories and anthropologies of whoever and whatever. It is here that you’ll also find Steidl Verlag, Günther Grass’ publishing house. From the 5th pavilion on, by far the post spectacular, you’ll meet the international exhibitors. At the first floor, Romania’s stand (100m2), in an easily recognisable Romexpo style design, with large photos of Varujan Vosganian, Dan Lungu, Gabriel Chifu and Horia Gârbea towering the entrance, neighboured by the stands of Hungary and United Arab Emirates. Further on, under a temperate and nevertheless friendly hum, stands of Poland, Macedonia, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia et. al., to the other end, where, on nearly half a hectare, watches the border the Russian citadel. It is neighboured with the stand of Moldova (8m2), as well as Iran, Georgia and Saudi Arabia.
Let us continue bombastically and jaw-dropped. When it’s an official opening, it’s an itch to head for the door, it’s highfalutin speeches, cataleptic drowsing audience, hardly restrained yawning, self-conscious smiles. However, the official opening of the Frankfurt International Book Fair was all sparkles. Issues were brought up, statistics named, ideas clashed. The president of the German Editors and Librarians (a sort of local REA, only incomparably more efficient), Prof. Dr. Gottfried Honnefelder, opened the opening straight to the point: printed book vs. e-book, openly expressing his scepticism towards to so-called apocalypse of the cellulose, as, he claimed, “the book is just like the wheel or like the spoon, it may undergo changes, but will not go extinct, since it is perfect as it is.” Juergen Boos, the director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, greeted and honoured the presence of the guest of honour this year, as every edition of the fair marks such a special presence. The Frankfurt am Main Mayor, Mrs. Dr.h.c. Petra Roth, who presented herself as a fierce reader, was the most practical and gave the audience figures and statistics on the percentage of the profits that books contribute to the total GDP of the city, stressing that the most valuable asset of a state is intellectual property. Volker Bouffier, prime minister of the Hesse Region, just as Dr. Guido Westerwelle, Germany’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, talked about the role of the book and such a book fair in cultural and political relations with other states, but especially with the guest of honour state. Griselda Gambaro, the literary spokesperson of the guest of honour, a dissident writer’s widow, talked about the relation of the intellectual and, implicitly, of the writer with the power and the various totalitarian regimes it may live through. In the end, we did not get any tango session, rumba-mumba-ciumba or any other sangre caliente samples, but a speech from no other than the president of the Republic of Argentina, the Country Guest of Honour, Dr. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, which fell heavy on the spine of the multiple issues mentioned by the fore speakers. To her, e-book, non-e-book, the book is one of the supreme values of Argentina, and all revolutions begin and end in a book. Therefore, Argentina’s budget increased during the past four years owing to books, from 3% to 6%, and each community and ethnic group has it national day. On the other hand, if you were not aware, Borges and Cortazar do not belong only to Argentina, but to everyone, and collaborationism and all other relations of the writers with the power are understandable and, to some extent, admirable, from the point of view of Argentina’s president, as she believes that an intellectual cannot remain indifferent and all the less neutral. No offence, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner pointed out, by “Argentina will never be Switzerland”. Now, I am not aware of any soon to come election campaign in Argentina, for which the Lady President might be looking for rating, I don’t actually even know when the next presidential campaign will take place in Argentina, but to put it in Caragiale’s style, we won’t have the fortune to hear Dr. Sorin Oprescu pleading for the supremacy of intellectual property in Romania, although we’re learning, learning, learning, and I’m afraid that neither Mister Traian Băsescu, the one who said that there’s to much thinking and that we have too many intellectuals and there’s not much hope to see them out of his… neutrality very soon.
To conclude in a philosophical moos, the Frankfurt Book Fair is something that there is and there isn’t at the same time. There isn’t, as here they’re selling and buying copyrights; authorship, reproduction, editing rights, licences. Something extremely abstract, mentioned in contracts at business lunches. And there is because the carpets of the pavilions are walked by over 300 000 visitors. Over 300 000 visitors come, consume, consult, read, produce ideas. 300 000 ideas every 12 months is a lot, is huge, even if we put this into GDP.
After learning today that Răzvan Rădulescu is one of the winners of the European Award for Literature, the Nobel winner will be announced tomorrow and the Frankfurt Book Fair will be uplifted more…

published in Art Act Magazine, Nr. 88, October 2010

translated by Sanda Watt

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2 responses to “Frankfurter BuchMesse 6-10 Oktober 2010 (english version)

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