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Frankfurt 2012: The Irish Publishing Experience

There is certainly no doubt about the fact that international publishing fairs like Frankfurt are vital for an industry that is facing more than its fair share of difficulties. For larger publishers it is a chance to boost your profile, see what’s out there in terms of competitive projects and to meet your counterparts from all over the world. For smaller publishers, however, it is much more than that. For smaller publishers, Frankfurt is a lifeline through which they not only have the chance to network with other publishers but they are also provided with an invaluable opportunity to learn about emerging technologies and publishing innovations which are currently changing the face of the industry. We caught up with two of Ireland’s smaller publishing houses to see what they thought of this year’s fair.


The Irish impact:  Carysfort’s Press’ Dan Farrelly and Columba’s  on This Year’s Fair

The Collective Irish Stand at Frankfurt Book Fair 2011

As Board member of Publishing Ireland for 3 successive years, I have been attending Book Fairs in Leipzig, Stuttgart, London and Frankfurt. Of these, Frankfurt is the largest, and like London, is of enormous significance for publishers. The large and medium-sized Irish publishers – along with Ireland Literature Exchange, which organized the Irish representation at the Frankfurt Book Fair this October – are able to book space on the Irish stand which most smaller publishers cannot afford. This Irish stand becomes a centre of a large volume of business, mainly for buying and selling rights to publish books and translations. It is inspiring to see that the Irish representation at Frankfurt is by no means swamped. While visitors need shuttle buses to move between the eight enormous halls, people find their way to the Irish stand. One outstanding instance of this was the Friday evening ‘party’ at which the Irish Ambassador to Germany, Dan Mulhall, spoke with great enthusiasm to a thronged gathering of international publishers about the merits of Irish writing and Irish publishing.

The larger publishers know that they have a lot to gain from their presence at Frankfurt Book Fair. But also for smaller publishers – like Carysfort Press – a visit to this Fair has considerable value. If ever one doubted the importance of epublishing, even for the immediate future, a visit to Frankfurt would be a complete eye-opener. The halls are teeming with people giving and seeking information about how to expand their markets, how, as a small publisher, to penetrate enormous markets such as those of Japan, China, Taiwan, India – not to speak of Australia, New Zealand (guests at this year’s Book Fair), and South Africa, and others. Can this be done best through epublishing? Everyone we hear that epublishing is where the future of publishing lies. We need not believe that, but it is important to listen and to form a view.


Columba Press/Currach Press’ new MD Fearghal O Boyle On His First Visit to Frankfurt

This was my first visit to Frankfurt as a publisher. Wow! Firstly its absolutely enormous – its amazing to think as we sit working in our own small publishing houses that we are part of such a massive global industry. Over 7000 different publishers there. Some spending serious money. Lots of meetings going on all the time, parties every evening, and the abiding memory will be the Indian publisher who started to sell me rights to a childrens list on the elevator between Hall 8 and Hall 6. Fair play to him!  As one publisher said to me ‘Frankfurt is so big because the world is so small’ The whole world was there, I know, I spoke to most of them! Many thanks to all the Irish publishers, in particular John Spillane of Mercier Press, who took me by the hand and guided the new boy all around the big school!


For more on Frankfurt and its international impact, go to


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