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The world’s largest gathering for books, multimedia and communications is opening its doors for the 61st time. Once upon a time with only 200 exclusively German exhibitors, the fair has increased to over 7,000 exhibitors from 100 countries. What were initially 10,000 exhibited titles have grown to about 400,000. During the upcoming five Book Fair days, the organisers are anticipating over 280,000 visitors – in 1949, there were only 14,000. This annual event explores new developments and trends in literature, media and science, where ideas are exchanged between writers, agents, publishers, the media, librarians as well as you, dear reader.
This year’s cultural activities will centre on this years’ guest of honour, China, a choice which has proven contoversial due to the censorship and persecution of authors practised there. But as the fair presents all points of view, and has gone out of its way to invite Chinese authors living in exile, there should be a very interesting mix of opinions present, causing plenty of dialogue and perhaps some fireworks. Famous writers invited this year include the banned Nobel Literature Prize winner Gao Xingjian, exiled poet Yang Lian, critical literary journalist Xu Xiao, the artist Ai Weiwei, the journalist Xue Xinran and writers Leung Ping-kwan (Hong Kong) and Chang Ta-Chun (Taiwan). There wll also be attention for the author Liu Xiaobo, who has been wrongfully imprisoned for several months now.
The fair has new programme Focus on Creative Content highlight, which thinks beyond the boundaries of the book sector and pursues new paths to the digital future by interacting with other creative sectors, and a key focus remains Education for the Future, brought into being in 2006 and dedicated to aspects of education, integration and multilingualism.Even if you’re not that into books, there’s as ever an increasing focus on electronic media, for several years now, more than 30 per cent of the products exhibited at the Frankfurt Book Fair have been digital. Plus there’s plenty of fun to be had in Frankfurt at the many afterparties, a.k.a. literary benders...
At Messe Frankfurt, www.frankfurt-book-fair.com. Although the first days are limited to trade participants only, the book fair is open to the general public on 17 October from 09:00 - 18:30 and on 18 October from 09:00-17:30. Admission is €14, trade visitors €28-36.