MA Publishing students visit the Frankfurt Book Fair
MA Publishing student Rosanne Dawkins writes about the visit by 35 students to the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2009. Accompanying the piece are two photos taken at the Fair by fellow students Juliette Boulouis and Brianna Corbett.
Wide eyed and full of questions, a group of travel-wearied Masters students embarked on what was to be their first true taste of the cut and thrust business world of publishing.
The Frankfurt Buchmesse is one of the most important dates in a publisher’s calendar with more than 7,300 exhibitors from 100 countries, 299,000 visitors and over 10,000 journalists. It not only offered us a unique insight into the practical usage of publishing skills but also the opportunity to talk to those in the industry.
As expected, the 2009 event was cleanly and efficiently organized. Moving walkways and transit buses aided the necessary dashes between appointments and eateries were strategically placed within ‘popping out’ distances from the companies’ stalls. It is not perhaps that surprising that now in its 60th year, the Book Fair runs like a well-oiled machine.
With over 172,000 square metres to cover, I was glad that the main hub of activity was centred in Hall 8, the International Hall. The vast space was filled with stalls ranging from the almost palatial Random House village with its gate-like entrance to the more modest and understated shared booth of the New Internationalist. The juxtaposition of the big guns with the smaller niche publishers meant that you never knew what to expect as you went from aisle to aisle.
We were each given the opportunity to meet with some industry experts and really find out what went on at the Fair. It was difficult not to keep asking questions as they openly and warmly talked about everything from their starts in the business to the effects of the recession on the Buchmesse this year. The appointments allowed us not just to be students looking in, but to be part of the experience.
People were as generous with their time as they were with their lists, catalogues and uncorrected proof copies of future books. Every time I bumped into a fellow course member, the bundles of goodies were compared like stockings on Christmas morning. The whole experience truly inspired an almost childish excitement.
By the end of the day, I was absolutely exhausted and overwhelmed, and in need of some famous Frankfurter and Apfelwein so we left behind the world of books and clutching our various freebies, business cards and purchases from the gift shops, we headed back towards our hotel for a well-earned rest.
Frankfurt was the most invaluable experience, particularly so early on in the course as it allowed us to see what we have learnt so far in context. As well as group bonding and a little adventure, it gave us each a real taste of the world we are entering and nothing could be more exciting than that.
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