Visiting Frankfurt Book Fair

In the midst of everything else that has been happening, I haven’t forgotten my intention to visit the Frankfurt Book Fair, and finally decided to commit, and make a holiday of it, two weeks beforehand.  Our daughter has been on half-term break until today, and Daddy welcomed the chance of a breather, so I booked the fare, the accommodation and the Bookfair ticket, and we set off last Tuesday, arriving at Frankfurt mid-afternoon.  Here we are in Germany, I thought, at last.  Unfulfilled ambition – sorted.

The Frankfurt Buchmesse is the world’s largest event of its type in the publishing industry, attracting two hundred and eighty thousand insiders and professionals from across the globe.  I was set at liberty to get my bearings in the enormous complex of buildings that are the Messe Halle.  Six halls were used for the Fair, plus a central area outside, though there are eleven halls in total, with a twelfth under construction.  But though the space can get a bit noisy, the halls are so huge, there is never any sense of claustrophobia.


A typical conversation with anyone you randomly meet or bump into there – sharing a table, queuing for drinks – will start in German, quickly segue to English, and if that produces no reaction, into Italian or French. The locals are very patient, and enjoy practising an array of different languages.  After listening to my faltering attempts to converse in German – introductory phrases are fine, but conversations are another matter – daughter offered the sage advice to start in English and keep to that, or others would become confused.  She was correct.  Here are some other pointers, for any aspiring authors hoping to make the trip to Frankfurt next year.

  • Start saving.  With the euro hovering at around parity with Sterling, travelling, dining out and having fun are more costly that we might imagine.
  • If you really mean business, try to have a formal interview or two lined up before you go – with publishers or agents, perhaps – but not on the first day, which will probably be spent getting lost.
  • Reconcile yourself to walking at least ten kilometers every day. Wear comfortable shoes and take a bottle of water.


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