Larger than life at the Frankfurt Fair

By Josalyn Moran

When I think of the book fair, I think of everything larger than life…the sculptures around the fairgrounds…

like the Hammering Man, a large kinetic sculpture created by Jonathan Borofsky that stands at the foot of the Messeturm. The black sculpture, which seems to be hammering at a constant pace, symbolizes the working man. It is made of steel and stands 21.5 meter (71 ft) tall. The Hammering Man was erected here in 1991 at the occasion of the completion of the Messeturm. The sculpture is part of a series; other Hammering Man sculptures can be found in cities such as Seattle, New York and Seoul.


Inside the fair jumbo-sized items were also evident if it was the Darth Vader made out of Legos at the DK booth,or the largest book of all time, At the Millennium House booth one could view the world’s largest book, the platinum edition of Earth.  Opened it measures 6 by 9 feet.  It showcases the craftsmanship of more than 100 international cartographers, geographers, and photographers.  Only 31 copies will be produced, so one should place one’s order quickly.  The retail?  Only $100,000…

…Or the weighty marble and stone bookends for sale at the market on the grounds.  The one I brought home weighed four pounds and  was sculpted from beautiful blue Brazilian granite (azul bahia).

Larger than life at the Frankfurt Fair

Frankfurt Book Fair through the eyes of a freshman

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For whatever short time I have been in publishing, I have always been told that the annual Frankfurt Book Fair is the book fair where professionals from all over the world gather for meetings, sharing and learning the latest trends and activities of the industry.  I started having a better idea how important this event was when I was started getting lots of miscellaneous permission requests.  Everybody seemed to be working to beat the clock before they headed out to Frankfurt.  So there I was, a first time attendee at the Frankfurt Book Fair, trying my very best to feel and absorb all that I could during this weeklong event.

Since I arrived a day early to attend the 2nd annual Tools of Change conference (covered in my next blog post), I was able to get a glimpse of the exhibition halls being set up, where the halls were still fairly empty.  That was quite interesting, because then for the five days that followed, the convention center was just packed with people and actions.  During the first three days of the fair when most of the business was conducted, it was quite the norm to see attendees (myself included) rushing from one place to the other, whether to catch a meeting or seminar.  Comfortable shoes were a must.

When the fair was opened to public on Saturday and Sunday, the scene changed into a book/reading festival.  The local publishers’ halls were filled with author signing and reading sessions.  Families came to spend their weekend checking out the latest published works.  Even cosplayers—people in costumes, like at comic book conventions—were sighted, too!  When I was away from the Whitman booth I enjoyed spending time in Hall 8 general (where English-speaking countries were stationed), as well as checking out the amazing booth designs many local publishers had put together.

There is no question why the Frankfurt Book Fair is so highly regarded in the industry. Not only does it get the “book people” excited, but it’s such a high-energy event that people from all over town, or even around the world can take part in it and be immersed in the world of words.

Frankfurt Book Fair through the eyes of a freshman