10 October 07 | Chad W. Post

The Frankfurt Book Fair is officially underway, and E.J. and I have made it through one long day of meetings, with three more to go. The fair itself is enormous beyond description. (We’ll post pictures once we have access to our computers again.) With hall upon hall, exhibitor upon exhibitor, there’s a lot to take in. . . I really can’t offer an objective, interesting summary of FBF, so instead here are a few bullet-points:

  • In terms of describing the fair itself, I’ve heard two apt bits—“it’s like Burning Man for publishers,” and, “in comparison to BEA where there’s a lot of publisher on bookseller love, Frankfurt is more of the editor on agent, or publisher on publisher variety.” Which isn’t as sexy as it sounds. Really. And both of these comments were made to Motoko Rich, who’s covering the fair for the New York Times and doing a special feature on Anna and Lorin Stein.
  • If you ever come to the fair, I wouldn’t recommend staying in Morfelden. No matter what Travelocity tells you, this is not a suburb in the American sense of the word, and walking across a big-ass open field to get to the train station is a bit, um, creepy at night. (Although we jokingly refer to this as the murder field, I really am a bit nervous about getting run over by a cow one of these nights.)
  • And in terms of cultural differences, my favorite German thing is their clear hatred of drafts. Hannah mentioned this at dinner, and she’s totally right. Everyone in Morfelden has thick corrugated steel shutters over all their windows. No natural light, no natural air is getting through that shit.
  • I have to credit Hannah with drawing this to my attention as well, but the Frankfurt Book Fair Blog is live and pretty interesting.
  • We were able to nail down the sixth and final book for Open Letter’s inaugural list today, so we’ll be announcing that list officially in the next couple weeks. . . .
  • Catalan author Quim Monzo gave the opening speech, which supposedly was incredibly funny and well-received, and we’ll link to it as soon as it’s available on the Ramon Llull website.
  • I also learned from the Catalans that next year is the centenary for Merce Rodoreda and a big celebration will be taking place in Paris.
  • There were a ton of interesting books that got talked about, but the two that stick in my mind right now are Bernardo Atxaga book that Harvill is publishing and the Norwegian writer Carl Frode Tiller, who has yet to be translated into English.
  • I know a lot of people always talk about the “Big Frankfurt Book.” For obvious reasons, we’re sort of out of that game, but my vote is for the biography of Cardinal’s pitcher-turned-slugger Rick Ankiel that a VP at Penguin was talking about at the Frankfurter hof last night . . . . I’d love to read/write such an unauthorized biography, especially if it were subtitled A Story about Hope . . .

I think I’m all out of interesting gossip. Last night was a great night for people to make contact and get ready for the fair, but the big party nights are still coming up . . . .

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