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12/10/2016

Thoughts on Book Fairs

 

Book fairs are fantastic events, filled with opportunity.

Now that everyone is able to connect a lot easier through virtual mediums, a book fair could seem like an outdated and in some ways inconvenient means of connecting with the rest of the publishing community. But book fairs also allow for booksellers and publishers who have only ever met online to communicate face to face. Book fairs are an excuse to travel to another country and interact with members of the international book-selling community, a novelty that should not be taken for granted. There is a considerable difference between discussing business over Skype, and being able to shake the hand of a new acquaintance. As the Frankfurt Book Fair 2016 is commencing next week, here are just a few notes on why the book fair, as a networking event, is still relevant, and how now more than ever it can be an opportunity to connect.

The most obvious reason for not being able to attend book fairs is the expense. Travelling to another country with the intention of attending a book fair is not always possible, and it is often more convenient to oversee things from a virtual perspective. The sensation that you are missing out does not dissipate, so it really is more beneficial, if possible, to make sure that you get the best deal you possibly can and stay over. Priorities at home and at work also come into account. Another thing to consider that might deter certain people from attending might be the sheer scale of the event. This in itself is a daunting experience for anyone attending anything for the first time, but surely it is also part of the draw of the event? Overwhelming as it might be at first, the opportunity to meet so many new people from different cultures at a location that has a variety of events on offer is an opportunity too good to pass up.

Book fairs provide a fun way to network and to advertise your wares! We personally have been sent so many offers to meet people at their stalls that Frankfurt this year, and while we probably won’t be able to avail of all of those offers, it’s still pretty nice to be asked! Then of course there is the ever possible situation in which you simply cannot attend a fair in person. With the introduction of new forms of technology it is certainly easier to keep up to speed with what is happening at these fairs, even if you are not able to attend.

The purpose of a book fair is of course to draw awareness to the fact that your business actually exists. However, in a crowded room full of similar looking stands, it’s still going to be very easy for people to just walk past your own little booth. So if you can manage to muster up a neat little audio visual display, do that. Better yet, actually arrange meetings before hand. Sure, happy accidents happen all the time and just the right person might happen to take an interest in your booth at just the right time. But you could also end up stood at your stand for three hours twiddling your thumbs. Arranging meetings with fellow attendees before hand before you even land in Frankfurt is the best idea. Planning is everything, and so discussing a set time and place is the best thing to do as regards making sure that the people you hope will attend your stall actually do so is crucial. Otherwise, you will have to deal with disappointment on both sides, as someone who wanted to meet you could not find you, and vice-versa. The bemusement is not worth it, so avoid it if you can.

Frankfurt should be an interesting affair, with publishers getting together to discuss the changing state of the industry and the innovations in the publishing world that might change the way in which books are sold. Brexit is obviously going to be a talking point, and the general state of publishing as an industry will be discussed. But book fairs are what you make of them, like so many other events. The possibilities are endless for so many organisations, so attend the Frankfurt Book Fair if you can, and certainly keep up to date on what is happening!

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