Saturday, October 12, 2013

A visit to the Frankfurt Book Fair

I just motored home from a trip to Frankfurt for a visit to the Frankfurt Book Fair and some city exploring. The Frankfurt Book fair, or Buchmesse in German, is the biggest trade book fair in the world. According to the book fair's website, there are 7500 exhibitors who visit from more than 110 countries. The first three days of the fair are limited to trade professionals and the last two days, on the weekend, are open to the general public.

I was curious about the fair; I had read about it in the US and thought that since I live about an hour or so from Frankfurt and I had some free time this weekend, it would be a good trip to make. I bought a ticket and was pleased to see that it also included a public transit ticket throughout the Frankfurt region. That wasn't a bad deal for 17 euros.

The fair took up most of the Messe, or the exhibition hall in Frankfurt, and that place is HUGE. It reminds me of an airport in many ways; it even has those moving sidewalks. Just like the airport, the Messe seems to offer almost unlimited walking.

The event itself is huge, too. Even though it's a trade show, the general reader can very much enjoy it too. Keep in mind that most of the books will be in a foreign language -- mostly German (yeah, duh); after all, this book fair is held in Germany. There is also a huge selection of foreign publishers; there were books in French, Spanish, Asian languages, Portuguese, etc.

I was most impressed by the reproductions of illuminated manuscripts. One booth featured a demonstration of a woman sewing the spine of the vellum pages! Her colleague was hand stamping leather bookmarks and handing them out.

There were also a great section with some beautiful art books. I was thrilled to look over the prints and recognize many of the art pieces or at the very least, the art period, all thanks to the art history class I'm finishing now.

Some of the booths had gifts like post cards, little notebooks, and cards for sale. One booth was selling these unusual cardboard cutouts, about the size of a book.

The book fair didn't offer just books; there were also discussions, author talks, and even a cooking show!

In addition to the cooking show, the other "show" was people watching. It seems that about a third of the attendees were teenagers dressed in costumes. It made more sense once I found out that the Book Fair even hosts a cosplay championship. Wonders never cease! (Okay, I feel really old writing that.)

Kids these days! They have tails.
All in all, it was a very interesting (and exhausting) day. Even for those only read English books, it's still worth a visit to look at the art books, flip through some books in Turkish, and even better yet, people watch.


  1. Did you make it to the International Halle? It's a bit of a walk, but worth it. They have TONS of books in English.

  2. Yes, I did. I really enjoyed the whole fair. I walked so much that it was crazy! Even after the fair I walked more, through town.