This post originally appeared on the Frankfurt Book Fair blog. I highly recommend visiting the official blog for interesting posts from Richard Nash, Alex Hippisley-Cox, and Arun Wolf
I really do love book fair and publishing people and the business of publishing and the discovery of new artists. I love drinking too much, knowing that when I sip my first beer at a 5 o’clock Australian reception that I’ll be talking, mingling, and imbibing for the next eleven or so hours. I love that despite all this—which must seem a bit decadent to outsiders—that business gets done. That I can find a Flemish author with echos of Kafka, Beckett, and Pinter. (I’m keeping this book secret for the moment . . . If you want to find out who the next hot Flemish author will be, you’ll have to read my posts tomorrow . . .) That I can learn about Bragi Olafsson’s latest novel. That I can meet a Polish editor who’s really excited about some of our translations.
Juergen Boos is absolutely right: Frankfurt is a platform. A place where everyone can come together to meet, friend each other (like in the old-school, non-Facebook sense), exchange info, do business. I’m sure this happens in other industries as well, but there’s something about a gather of tens of thousands of literary folk that makes this Fair hum with some sort of cultural import. We will all shape the future of publishing and part of that future is being designed over the course of this week.
We talked a lot about eBooks. Maybe too much—like Erin Cox said in her Publishing Perspectives editorial we don’t want to lose focus on our real business: “creating content for the reader, not content for the technology.” We talked about rights deals that did and didn’t get done. We talked about the “monkey sex” book and the graphic novel Michael Jackson “wrote.” We talked about Zombies. (We did a lot of talking about Zombies.) But most of all, we talked.
I’ve heard lots of people mention how the Frankfurt Book Fair is like a family reunion. (Caveat: they’re talking about one of those pot-o-gold rare fun family reunions.) And it sort of is. It’s hard (for me) to not get a bit emotional about the end of the fair. These are my people; this is what I love. So forgive my over-the-top sentimentality, but I’m going to miss this, and will be waiting patiently for next year, when I can come back, reconnect, tell new stories, have more drinks, and find more books. See you next year—
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Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .