News | Frankfurt, 10/17/2019

Concentrated Book Clout At The Busy Frankfurt Fair

Exhibitors at the Frankfurt Book Fair include Bertelsmann’s German-language publishers from Verlagsgruppe Random House, and DK. The Verlagsgruppe Random House joint stand shines a spotlight on the German Book Prize winner Saša Stanišić as well as on authors from this year’s special guest country, Norway.

“Naturally, this year the German Book Prize stands out especially for us and gives us all great momentum for the fair and also for the Christmas business at the end of the year,” says Verlagsgruppe Random House CEO Thomas Rathnow. In the book industry, traditionally the crucial sales are generated in the last quarter of the year. “Having a driving force like Saša Stanišić’s ‘Origins’, which is also politically highly topical and important, provides enormous impetus.” According to Rathnow, the significance of the Frankfurt Book Fair extends across the entire sector. “For a whole week, people talk about and focus on books, authors and reading – this is one of the most successful industry marketing events of them all, where the book industry gets to present itself at its most attractive. As part of this, Frankfurt is of course also an important place for Verlagsgruppe Random House’s businesses. Above all, contacts can be made and cultivated, and a lot of talks can be held in a compact space. “It’s always a very intensive time, and a big, joyful event every year,” says Rathnow.

Spotlight on this year’s special guest: Norway

This year, Verlagsgruppe Random House also turns its special attention to the north – to Norway, the guest country of this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. Featured authors and books from the Scandinavian country include Karl Ove Knausgård, whose book “So Much Longing In So Little Space” about the painter Edvard Munch was published by Luchterhand in September; the “Homeland and other stories” anthology – also Luchterhand – edited by Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Geir Gulliksen; and the third volume in Maja Lunde’s Climate quartet, “The Last of Their Kind.”

The Oslo-born writer Maja Lunde savors this recognition: “It’s always wonderful to be at the Frankfurt Book Fair, but with Norway as the guest country, the fair naturally is very special this time.” She says it means a great deal to her that her home country is being spotlighted, and that it provides a fantastic opportunity for her and other authors to represent it. “Norway is a real reading country. The people there buy and read a lot of books, which is why literature is an important part of Norwegian society,” says Lunde. In her most recent work, which BTB will release next Monday, the author deals with the extinction of species as a result of climate change, following her first two Climate quartet volumes on the death of insects (“The History of Bees”) and the shortage of water (“The End of the Ocean”). “In Norway, too, the issues of climate change and climate protection have hit the mainstream. The question of how we deal with them and what we can do about them is finally getting the attention it deserves – and it’s about time, too” says Lunde.

A wide variety of topics at DK Germany

Also in Hall 3.0 is the stand of DK Deutschland, part of Verlagsgruppe Penguin Random House. The new cookbook “Veggies” by Jamie Oliver is the first thing one sees. Several stacks of books sit in front of a large poster just at the entrance to the stand, along with a little sofa decorated with “stuffed vegetable” cuddly toys. Besides Jamie Oliver’s latest, a number of other cookbooks also feature prominently at the stand, such as “Heimatliebe” by Nelson Müller, “Weil’s einfach besser ist” by Alexander Herrmann, and “Sizilien in meiner Küche” (The Sicily Cookbook) by Cettina Vicenzino. A very special title is “The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook” to accompany the eponymous British TV series. Beyond cookbooks, the DK stand also features numerous advice, travel and children’s nonfiction titles.

While authors were rarely seen at the stand in recent years, this year quite a few will be dropping by. This afternoon between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., Cettina Vicenzino, Ruth Moschner, whose book “Total Detox” was published by DK, and star chef Nelson Müller are expected to attend a special social media event. The DK publishing house is also already gearing up for its 20th anniversary next year. The raising of provocative questions plays a central role in this, and so visitors to the Frankfurt trade fair stand are asked, for example, why people should still buy books today. They are invited to write their answers on small cards, which are then pinned to a wall at the stand. After DK in Great Britain had already relaunched its “Vis-à-Vis” travel guides, DK Germany will be following suit early next year. In spring, 50 new titles will be launched, in a fresh layout and with a new structure. But back to the here and now: On Saturday, a special annual highlight awaits our colleagues at the Frankfurt Book Fair: “Star Wars Reads Day.” With make-up and costume activities to match the day’s motto planned for the younger guests of the fair, the DK stand will become an even more colorful place than it already is