Thursday, October 9, 2008

Going to Frankfurt

I am making final preparations for my first trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair. It is one of the world's largest book fairs and I am thrilled. There are some eight different floors with publishers and books from all over the world. I will be selling Cumberland House books to international retailers, meeting with foreign publishers to look for things we could publish in English, and pitching our books for foreign language editions.

Earlier this week I spoke with an industry pro who gave me a lot of great travel tips and insight on the show. One of the things he pointed out is that it is a "working" show. People are there to do business and they are concerned with quality content. A Czech publisher could care less what the American cover looks like or marketing plan, they are looking for good stories, good content.
I don't know what Internet access will be like but I intend to blog my experience, even if I don't get to post the entries until I get back.

Have you been to Frankfurt? What sites do I need to be sure to see? What foods do I need to try? Have you been or are you going to the Book Fair? Any tips or advice?


Larry Stone said...


My son, Geoff, called my attention to your request for comments about Frankfurt.
First, internet access is as good as the US. There are computers available at the US collective booth in the international hall.
Travel and food tips depend on what you're interested in and have time for. If you're spending a day driving around, either visit Cologne (the cathedral was the tallest building in the world for 8 years in the 1800s) or go towards the Black Forest. In Frankfurt, visit Sachsenhausen; there's a cathedral where Charlemagne was crowned; and you can usually find good jazz.
As for the Fair, it's a lot of different fairs all together. It's the German equivalent of BEA -- which has almost nothing to do with American publishers. There's always a "buzz" about the big books. Like BEA that buzz has almost nothing to do with smaller publishers. No matter how good Cumberland is, you're not going to be in the running for the next Dan Brown book. Part of the challenge (and fun) is understanding other cultures. It used to be that Europeans could publish a topic in "partworks" -- e.g. they would take a massive encyclopedia of health, break it into magazine-sized sections, sell the sections by subscription, and then bind up the sections for a huge book. Tremendously successful in Europe; no one cared in the US except the door-to-door market. The trick is to know who you are, what Cumberland's strengths are, and what you can sell here. I have a dear friend I used to see every year in Frankfurt who published wonderful books -- none of which would work for the markets I reached. It works the other way around too. I've sold a million books based on The Andy Griffith Show -- which no one in the rest of the world cares about. In fact, one of the signs of the success of Rutledge Hill Press (which was very focused on books for Americans) was that most of our books had little interest at Frankfurt.

Larry Stone

Paul Mikos said...

Thanks for the wisdom and insight, Larry.

Now that you know about the blog I hope you will drop in and post comments often.

Thanks again, Paul.