Visitors to the Frankfurt Book Fair in the Norwegian pavilion, the guest country in 2019.picture alliance / via .
As the soldiers psychologically need the harangue of their leaders in the worst moment of the combat, the book sector has just received theirs in its battle against the coronavirus: the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest and most important in the sector, has confirmed who will keep his face-to-face appointment from October 14 to 18. Of course, it will be “a special edition”, which will combine the face-to-face activities with “an extensive digital program”, the director of the fair, Juergen Boos, hastened to clarify, after the decision adopted this Wednesday by the German Association of Editors and Booksellers, organizer of the event.
“This year it is more important than ever to celebrate the Frankfurt Book Fair. With the presence at the fairground and events both on-site and virtual, we create public attention for our authors, for the sector, for our issues, “said Boos, aware of the symbolic value of the declaration for a sector especially punished for the immediate closure of the physical bookstores at the beginning of the pandemic.
Although Boos plans to reel in the security measures and the new format that the 72nd edition of the fair will adopt exceptionally this Thursday, the great asset that the organizers analyze is to sponge the space of the activities as much as possible to keep the distance social and avoid crowds, thus complying with the health regulations that are expected to follow in October. For this it is not ruled out that, in an organizational movement opposed to that of recent years, some of the immense pavilions that make up the fairground to locate stands and activities are recovered and that in recent editions, precisely, they had been closed to the evident decrease in the delegations of participating companies and institutions.
Another option, already pointed out by Boos himself a few weeks ago in other forums in the sector, would be to separate the aspect of international meeting from the part open to the public. The fair received 302,267 visitors last year, of which 127,790 were general public (mostly German), compared to 174,477 professionals. In any case, access to the public is not ruled out.
The organization of the fair also works to disseminate some of the activities that are traditionally carried out in the fairgrounds throughout the city. Among them could be none other than the Center for Literary Agents and Scouts, the heart of the fair’s economic activity and perhaps its ultimate raison d’être. Its unstoppable growth (last year it received 780 agents from 355 agencies, from 35 countries) already forced last year to find them a special location. Even so, the traditional and picturesque concentration of small tables, lined up and very close together overloaded with people negotiating frantically is completely unimaginable in these times of coronavirus, so the Boos team does not rule out its location in some other fairgrounds in the city German, where the distance between agencies and agents is greater.
The massive press conference, the opening ceremony and perhaps a good part of the program of activities of the guest country (this year, Canada) are the main candidates to be part of the virtual program of the Frankfurt Fair. The same as always, but like never before.