This year the fair was officially opened by Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who was accompanied by Emmanuel Macron, the President of France. He was there because France was this year’s ‘Guest of Honour’ country at the Fair, though it’s difficult to believe that there was no subtext behind this joint appearance of the EU’s two foremost politicians. Merkel said that “the identity of language lives through confrontation with other languages”; Macron was more combative: “We fight for our books and our culture. Without culture, there is no Europe.” Neither referred directly to ‘Brexit’, but many of the large contingent of British publishers present admitted that they had wondered whether the UK’s imminent departure from the EU would affect business at Frankfurt – and at least one American publisher went on record actually stating this. However, by the end of the first day these fears seem to have been largely dispelled: British publishers were doing as brisk a trade as usual.

CUP stand at the Frankfurt Bookfair 2017
Cambridge books featured at the bookfair

For Cambridge University Press, the Fair was both busy and effective. Chris Bennett, Global Sales Director, CUP Academic, said that this year’s Fair was “probably the most productive I’ve been to in terms of the quality and number of meetings. I was as busy as I’ve ever been, and so were the rest of the team. There was a real buzz about the whole occasion.” Chris added that the fact that academic publishers have now been moved to Hall 4.2, separating them from the trade publishers, was a bonus, as it helped the circulation of traffic. Both the specialist scientific and the more general academic publishers had been incredibly busy.

Almost all the major markets that CUP works in were represented, including Japan, India, Russia, all of Europe, the Middle East and North and South America. The one of real significance not covered was Australia. Chris’s personal highlight of the Fair was being interviewed for Uzbek TV.

Alison Thomson and Claudia Schutz on the Cambridge stand
Alison Thomson and Claudia Schutz on the Cambridge stand

Burcu Sevindik-Kit, Library Sales Manager for Germany and Austria, added that a significant number of library customers had attended CUP meetings at the Fair. “We prepare what we call ‘visit reports’, which include such information as usage / turnaways of Cambridge Core products (e-books and journals). It is a good way of showing customers that you are prepared and it opens up discussions about potential new business models, consortium deals, etc. In return we get a lot of feedback from the market and the issues libraries are faced with.”

Cambridge University Press meets partners and customers at the Frankfurt Bookfair
Cambridge University Press meets partners and customers at the Frankfurt Bookfair

Jan Rylewicz, Sales Manager for the Middle East and North Africa, said there had been a good mixture of distributor and agent meetings. “On my side there were very interesting talks with booksellers from Iran, all vowing to give us big orders at Tehran International Book Fair next year. Their competitiveness was evident; Frankfurt was a good place to hear all their pitches and decide how to move forward.”

Jan also met the Library Dean of Princess Noura University – the first time he had met a representative from the largest women-only University in Saudi Arabia. He said it was a good first step towards building bridges with female learners across the country.

Jan’s highlight was the obvious pleasure of a (not named and shamed) customer from Pakistan, who hoovered up CUP’s supply of chocolate cakes at the end of a long day. As he observed, only a little tongue-in-cheek, “It was good to be able give a bit back, even if it was only culinary!”

 

 

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