The Frankfurt Book Fair this year started on a bad note for many as baggage handlers delayed all incoming flights amid mounting concern over the proposed airport strike on the Friday.
News from across the channel that the British Library had added a ‘buy’ link to Amazon caused a certain amount of angst and publishers were no more amused by Amazon’s ‘request’ for a 90% discount to participate in their Kindle promotion.
In spite of all this, the atmosphere at the fair was focused and business-like and, once people had caught up with the appointments they missed on Wednesday morning, they settled down to three days of productive meetings and discussions.
In addition to the much improved cafes in the halls, several of the pre-fair conferences provided food for thought. The STM conference on the Tuesday, for instance, had a good talk by Frank Schirrmacher of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a national German daily. In his keynote speech, Frank spoke about a conversation he had had with Eric Schmidt of Google about how in the future machines will do all our remembering for us. He also had some interesting stories to tell about Germany, such as how the German government had introduced a Trojan virus into their population’s computers to capture emails, thus endangering people’s ability to write thought pieces not intended for publication without fear of reprisal.
For fair-attendees, though, the German government appeared in a more benign light when it was announced that the airport strike had been called off. As Angela Merkel fights fires on all fronts, she may be comforted to know that the publishing community considers itself indebted to her for ensuring they weren’t stuck in Frankfurt over the weekend.
European Business Development Manager