In 2014—after living in Frankfurt for nine years and stupidly, ignorantly, ignoring it—I attended my first Frankfurt Book Fair. And my god, the books!
As I said then: “The Frankfurt Book Fair. It’s, it’s, it’s…batshit insane overload book explosion cartwheels fireworks exhaustion wow. Holy fucking books.” And that has held true for every Frankfurt Book Fair I’ve attended since. Holy fucking books!
Almost 300,000 people flood into Frankfurt to attend, whether they are one of the 7,000+ exhibitors or just planning to wander and gape, or drop in on one of the 4,000 (I kid you fucking not) events. In 2014 and 2015 I covered the event for Young Germany, and last year, a new, non-bookish employer riding the top of my CV, I cut back on the exhaustive wandering and dropped in for just a few hours to catch up with former colleagues and buy English books during the Sunday clearance madness. Book Fair burnout, man, it’s a thing, especially when you begin to notice that the big exhibits don’t change much (at all) from year to year, and you’re taking the same photo of the same owl shelf for the third year in a row.
At the prompting of Madame Dietz, the pen behind A Sausage Has Two, I got my press accreditation for 2017, and dammit, I’m excited already. Turns out a year off the hardcore fairing was what I needed to get back into the hype of the thing, and with France the 2017 guest of honor, the cookbook hall is liable to be delicious. (Seriously, if you go, do not skip the cookbook hall. There are so many tastings. And also cookbooks are beautiful.)
What is special about the fair, why I hate the program and always end up missing something amazing, and which bits of the fair I love the most are covered in my introduction to the book fair. My complaints about the invisibility of science fiction and fantasy and my amazement and joy at the sheer mass and diversity of publishers attending are collected here. In the evenings you will either find me drinking science-fiction-laced champagne thanks to Fischer-Tor or passed the fuck out in my bed beneath an open book because a trip to the book fair is also a commitment to walk 10km with 30 kilos of books on your back while snapping endless photos of strange promotional gimmicks, gorgeously designed shelves, and bookish furniture you wish someone was actually trying to sell you.
This post was written in response and as a part of the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair Blog Parade at Melusine’s Welt. Photo: © Marc Jacquemin/Frankfurter Buchmesse