Opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2023 / Book industry’s aim to play a role in strengthening democracy / Small publishing houses in particular at their limit due to economic pressure - structural support urgently needed to maintain diversity on the book
Erstellt am 17.10.2023
Frankfurter Buchmesse opens its doors for the 75th time tomorrow. The book fair is a place of democracy par excellence, said Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, Chairwoman of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers & Booksellers Association) at the press conference to mark the opening of the fair. "In the coming days, we will experience a multitude of stories, sentiments, inspiring ideas and opinions. Unlike any other institution, the book fair brings people from different countries together to talk peacefully about books and social issues."
This is of great importance given the many current crises. Schmidt-Friderichs: "We are deeply shocked by the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel. We vehemently condemn this violence. Our sympathy goes to all the victims of the violence in Israel and Palestine. Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, violating international law, has been raging on the edge of Europe now for a year and a half. Looking at Germany, we are concerned by the increase in popularity of extreme positions in society and the political party landscape. Debates are heating up; words are triggering waves of agitation. All around us, populism and nationalism are gaining ground at an alarming rate.”
Basic democratic values are increasingly under attack, says Karin Schmidt-Friderichs. "Democracy, freedom and diversity are cornerstones of our society. We must defend them, as individuals, as an industry and as a society. The book industry can make a fundamental contribution to this. However, we need stable framework conditions in order to continue to perform this important role in the future."
A growing number of publishers and bookstores, authors, translators as well as the logistics sector of the industry are reaching their economic limits. At first glance, the current market figures are positive: Turnover in the central sales channels increased by four per cent in the first nine months of the year compared to the same period last year (source: Media Control). At the same time, however, 1.1 per cent fewer books were sold, and as much as 7.4 per cent fewer compared to the first three quarters of the pre-pandemic year 2019.
“The pandemic years of store closures and cancelled trade fairs, as well as the explosion in raw material and energy costs, are threatening the economic existence of small, independent publishing houses in particular. These publishers play a decisive role in shaping the diversity of the book market by offering titles outside the mainstream and discovering new titles and writers. Politicians and society must ask themselves: What is a diverse book landscape worth to us? We urgently need structural support for publishers. There is a need for action here to quickly implement the ideas from the coalition agreement and to include the necessary funds in the federal budget," said Karin Schmidt-Friderichs.
Furthermore, the visibility of books in the media is fundamental for the industry and society: "Books and discourse surrounding them are vital building blocks in our culture of debate. It is one of the central tasks of public broadcasting to provide a space for such debates. Therefore, books need a proper platform here too - contemporary, also on new, non-linear (on-demand) channels - but also in linear programming and in formats that are familiar and accessible to the public. Those responsible in the media should keep this in mind with regard to upcoming transformations," says Schmidt-Friderichs.
Our Programme Highlights (Events in German language)
DISCUSSION | What is the future of literary reporting?
Wednesday, 18.10., 15:00 | Frankfurt Pavilion (Agora)
With Ellen Trapp (Bayerischer Rundfunk), Kerstin Gleba (Kiepenheuer & Witsch Publishing House) and Frank Menden (stories!, Hamburg). Moderator: Miriam Zeh (Deutschlandfunk Kultur).
LECTURE & DISCUSSION | The German Sustainability Code - The new industry guide for publishers
Thursday, 19.10., 12:00 | Frankfurt Pavilion (Agora)
Presentation of the sustainability guide, developed by a working group of industry participants.
DISCUSSION | Turkey and Us. What’s next?
Friday, 20.10., 16:15 | Frankfurt Pavilion (Agora)
With Can Dündar (Journalist and Author), Berivan Aymaz (Vice President of the North Rhine-Westphalia State Parliament) and Oliver Mayer-Rüth (former Head of ARD Studio Istanbul). Moderator: Özlem Sarikaya (Bayerischer Rundfunk).
Der Börsenverein ist in seinen Landesverbänden direkt bei Ihnen vor Ort aktiv. Wählen Sie einfach den für Sie passenden Verband.