News | Penguin Random House, Gruner + Jahr | Frankfurt a. M., 10/20/2021

Industry Meet: The Frankfurt Book Fair Opens Its Doors

The Frankfurt Book Fair 2021 opened its doors to the trade public. After the book industry’s most important meeting could only be held virtually last year, this year will also see a slimmed-down trade fair on the ground. Penguin Random House and Gruner + Jahr’s German publishers and, of course, the “Blue Sofa” literary event series will be there.

It is the first day of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2021 – and the book world is looking forward to an at-least partial return to normality, because after a purely virtual fair last year, life is returning to Frankfurt’s exhibition halls this year under the motto “Re:connect – Welcome back to Frankfurt.” Many publishers have booths at the fair; up to 25,000 visitors are allowed per day; and readings and discussions will be hosted on site in the exhibition halls and throughout the city again. Things aren’t quite back to normal in Frankfurt yet, however; for example, the major international publishers, including Penguin Random House’s English- and Spanish-language publishers, are still staying away from the fair this year.

But Germany’s Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe and its publishers will once again be represented in Hall 3.0. – albeit in a much slimmed-down configuration. “We are delighted to be able to celebrate the Book Fair and the joy of reading in Frankfurt again this year,” says Thomas Rathnow, CEO of Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe. “The idea is to draw attention to the world of books and to enable encounters – especially between authors and their readers.” The Blue Sofa organized by Bertelsmann, ZDF, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, and 3sat will also be present again from today with an extensive live program at its usual location in exhibition hall 3.1. According to the fair organizers, around 1,500 exhibitors from more than 70 countries and around 200 authors are expected to attend. As always, the first few days of the fair are reserved for trade visitors.

Markus Dohle Live at the ‘Frankfurt Studio’

Penguin Random House’s international publishers may not be on site, but their chief executive Markus Dohle is making a live appearance this morning that, like many other events at this year’s fair, will be broadcast live on the internet. As part of the Book Fair’s new “Frankfurt Studio: Inside Publishing” program, starting at 10 a.m. CET today the CEO of Penguin Random House will speak with Porter Anderson, editor-in-chief of the industry magazine “Publishing Perspectives,” about the resilience of international book publishing in a time of extraordinary global challenges. In this conversation, Markus Dohle will share his nuanced perspective on the unique potential of literature, as well as the core value of print, and the importance of investing in the market.

Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe has its own stage for the first time

The Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe’s joint booth will be located in its usual place in Hall 3.0. This year, due to Corona, it will be smaller than usual. Those who spend time here will not only meet colleagues from the publishing houses who are delighted to finally be able to talk in person about current bestselling books and audiobooks, but with a bit of luck they will also meet one of the publishing group’s authors who are visiting the stand, talking to trade journalists, or taking part in one of the reading and discussion events at the fair. They include well-known names from the German-language literary and nonfiction scene such as Jenny Erpenbeck, Franz Hohler, Bernhard Aichner, Jan Beck, Ellen Sandberg, Marc Elsberg, Christoph Peters, Elisabeth Herrmann, Peter Wohlleben, Hasnain Kazim, Jo Lendle, Hanns-Josf Ortheil, Bartholomäus Grill, and Terézia Mora. “The publishing group gives top priority to the health of its employees and authors. Attendance at the fair is therefore voluntary for everyone. Overall, we are on site with significantly fewer colleagues than in previous years,” says Rebecca Prager, Head of Corporate Communications at the publishing group. “However, many colleagues are really looking forward to the industry meet in Frankfurt after the last few trade fairs were cancelled. We have developed a new concept for our stand, which, with wider aisles for example, satisfies the requirements of the hygiene concept while above all offering our authors the best possible presentation and appearance opportunities.”

One highlight for the publishing group this year is its new book talk “Die 30-Minuten-WG” (The 30-Minute Shared Apartment) in Hall 3.0., which it is jointly hosting with G+J’s “Stern” magazine. “Together with our high-reach cooperation partners from ‘Stern’ and a comprehensive digital concept, we can make the diverse topics and stories of our authors and publishers accessible to a broad audience beyond the halls of the trade fair,” Thomas Rathnow had explained upon announcing the series in mid-October. A total of 31 authors will be holding open discussions in a relaxed atmosphere with literary experts from “Stern” until Sunday. Guests at the 30-minute talks will include extreme sailor Boris Herrmann, TV presenter Harald Lesch, forest expert Peter Wohlleben, and celebrities Roland Kaiser, Álvaro Soler and Riccardo Simonetti. Also taking part are award-winning authors including Jenny Erpenbeck, Terézia Mora, bestselling author Bernhard Aichner, and Ingeborg Bachmann Prize winner Nava Ebrahimi. “We’ve integrated a dedicated stage into our own booth for the first time for these talks,” says Thomas Wolff, who is responsible for organizing “Die 30-Minuten-WG” on the publishing group’s side. “The hygiene concept only allows a small audience in front of the stage, which is why we are relying fully on live transmission to the Internet via our own channels as well as those of ‘Stern’,” Wolff adds.

61 authors on the ‘Blue Sofa’

The “Blue Sofa” author forum is also relying on live webcasts. With a total of 61 authors being featured at its location in Hall 3.1, it offers a wide range of talks for every listening and reading taste. Book lovers can also follow all the talks on the five days of the fair daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. via livestream. This year, personages from the literary community including Julia Franck, Daniela Krien, Gert Loschütz, Eva Menasse, Fridolin Schley, Daniel Schreiber, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, and Sasha Marianna Salzmann will meet with popular non-fiction authors such as Peter Wohlleben, Per Leo, Steffen Mau, Armin Nassehi and Uwe Wittstock. Likewise, well-known German comedians such as Carolin Kebekus, Florian Schroeder, Bülent Ceylan and celebrity authors including Elke Heidenreich, Sönke Wortmann, Edgar Selge, Sven Regener, Roland Kaiser, Alvaro Soler, Annabelle Mandeng, and the German extreme sailor Boris Herrmann will take a seat on the literary couch.

As in previous years, award-winners at the Book Fair will also have a seat on the “Blue Sofa”: the latest Peace Prize laureate Tsitsi Dangarembga, the winner of the German Book Prize Antje Rávik Strubel, and the finalists for the Swiss Book Prize. Tomorrow at 11 a.m., the “Aspekte” Literature Prize will be awarded live on the “Blue Sofa.” In addition, current topics will be discussed daily in the talk format “Die Blaue Stunde” (The Blue Hour). Last night, on the eve of the fair’s opening, the traditional “Open Books” reading festival opened with a literary gala on the “Blue Sofa”; here, writer Antje Rávik Strubel made her first public appearance as the newly crowned German Book Prize winner.

‘Brigitte Live’ and ‘Stern Crime’ in Frankfurt

Besides the German  Penguin Random House publishers and the Blue Sofa, colleagues from Gruner + Jahr will also be back in Frankfurt. “Brigitte Live,” the event series hosted by the women’s magazine “Brigitte,” and the true-crime magazine “Stern Crime” will be guests on the ARD stage on Saturday. At 4 p.m., “Brigitte” literature experts Meike Schnitzler and Angela Wittmann will talk with authors Nicole Seifert and Simone Buchholz about women in literature. Nicole Seifert has just published her non-fiction book “Frauen Literatur – abgewertet, vergessen, wiederentdeckt” (Women’s Literature – Devalued, Forgotten, Rediscovered). In it, she explores the question of why books by women still don’t get the attention they deserve and why it wouldn’t hurt to introduce a women’s quota on one’s own bookshelf. Simone Buchholz became known through her “Chastity Riley” crime series and, as a writer, can share first-hand experiences. Starting at 5:30 p.m., author Christine Brand will talk with Giuseppe di Grazia, editorial director of “Stern Crime,” about her book “Wahre Verbrechen. Die dramatischsten Fälle einer Gerichtsreporterin” (True Crimes. A Court Reporter’s Most Dramatic Cases).