Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Calling All First-time Frankfurt Stories

If you work in book business, it’s a bit like making the Hajj: It happens once a year; you’ll be joined by other “People of the Book” from every tongue, tribe, and nation; and more than a few people go there hoping for miracles.

The Frankfurt Book Fair

The Frankfurt Book Fair is coming up in a few weeks, and we want to hear what it’s like when the magic is new. Do you have an incredible story of the first time you went decades ago? Was last year your first year? Maybe this year is your first: What are you hoping for? Nervous about?

We want to hear your stories, old and new! Post them as comments here, and we’ll keep collecting them through the third week of October. We’ll tweet our favorites to all our followers, too.


  1. Cecile says:

    First time on the Frankfurt Book Fair as a literary agent.. How nervous I was meeting the contacts I collaborated with for a long time, and how incredible nice it was to see them in person finally!
    Now.. 10 years later I am still attending an exhibiting. To me it always is the highlight of the year in publishing world!
    Hope to see more new faces this year 🙂

  2. How wonderful to hear that the magic continues 10 years down the road!

  3. Douglas Pfeiffer says:

    Most important was the advice I got from a veteran USA publisher who told me that international business is based on trust and friendship so don’t judge results until you have attended for 5 consecutive years. I followed that advice and in the 4th year, rights sales paid back the cost of attending the first 4 years. (via Linkedin)

  4. Pam Boiros says:

    Like every first time visitor, I was amazed at the size, scale, and scope of the event when I first attended in 1997. It cannot be described — it must be experienced. Although I will not be at FBF this year, I will offer the following advice from 10 years of attending:

    — Plan carefully or you will wear yourself out. Be realistic. It is not posible to get from, say, Hall 3 to Hall 8 on time if your appointments are at 30 minute increments.
    — Meeting people you have never met before is extremely challenging regardless of the location, so send a photo in advance, make sure you have their mobile number so that you can use text messaging to connect.
    — If you need to go from Hall 8 to Hall 4.2 frequently there is a back corridor near the pharmacy/post office that saves loads of time!
    — Goes without saying, but wear comfortable shoes!

    (via Linkedin)

  5. Jeremy Soldevilla says:

    The immensity of the event.

    The terrific opportunity to meet my clients from all over the world in person.

    Meeting an author who spoke no English (and I spoke no German) who took me on a tour of the Rhine River.

    The beer. Yeah, the beer.
    (via Linkedin)

  6. Beth Ardner says:

    This year will be my second Frankfurt Book Fair. Like everyone else I was absolutely awed by the size of the event. This year I am taking 3 colleagues with me who have not attended before and I’m almost as excited to see their reactions as I am to go back.

    To share one of my favorite memories–last year I knew very few people and didn’t always have plans for dinner. One of the evenings I went back to our hotel to eat. There weren’t a lot of seats so I was sharing a table with a gentleman from Saudi Arabia who was at the conference to purchase rights for medical books. After a little bit of time we were joined by a literary agent from the US whose focus was on trade and who had been attending the conference for 30 years. Although we might have been an unexpected match we sat for two hours after dinner that evening sharing stories, insights about publishing, thoughts about the e-books trend, and generally chewing on any book-related topic we could come up with. We may not have had business together at the book fair, but we were all “book” people and it was a treat to hear their thoughts and insights.

  7. How thrilling to hear from you, Beth! I actually was thinking a lot about what you’d said about your first experience of Frankfurt in the interview you did for us in May ( as we put this project together. It’s so great to hear more detail about your multinational experience last time, and I hope you and your colleagues have a blast this year! (If you take photos of their enchanted faces and send them in, we’d be thrilled to publish them 🙂 )

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