The annual Frankfurt Book Fair opens this week with the global publishing industry basking in the success of the latest Harry Potter novel and looking at new ways to sell more books in different formats. The organizers of the fair, which has been held annually since 1949, said the publishing industry has turned the corner in the face of competition from online and digital media, and is melding with them to make books more widespread than ever.
Demand for books of all titles and subjects has increased this year, said Andrew Wilkins, president of Australian Bookseller & Publisher magazine.
For fair organizers, it's the perfect segue to focus on reading, publishing and expanding new markets for books, be they nonfiction, comic book tales or the Arabic translation of Dan Brown's "The DaVinci Code."
Dieter Schormann, president of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, said interest in the new Harry Potter novel, the use of free books by newspaper publishers to lure customers and growing size of audiobooks, podcasts and downloadable texts proves that a demand for reading is growing.
Fair spokesman Holger Ehling said more than 30 South Korean authors and others were invited to attend the fair, which runs Oct. 19-23. Besides readings from authors, the fair will include films, photo exhibits and seminars from Korea that focus on its past, present and future.
Fair director Juergen Boos said that several attempts were made to have North Koreans participate in the event, with fair officials traveling to Pyongyang twice last year, but the communist country declined.
With some 7,220 exhibitors from 101 countries, fair organizers hope to increase access to Korean literature through exchanges between the nearly 30 authors who will attend the four-day gathering and publishers from around the world.
Writers like Canadian Margaret Atwood and Britons Nick Hornby and Ken Follet are scheduled to attend the fair, as is perennial Nobel literature prize candidate Cees Nooteboom of the Netherlands. A.M.