November 14, 2022

Frankfurt Diaries: The Students’ Perspectives

By Theresa Brown, Sarah Campbell, Lara Drzik, and Carolyn Schweitz

Lara Drzik: Capturing the Moments!

Recently, three of my fellow MS in Publishing classmates and I were given the amazing opportunity to travel to Germany, where we helped out at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. After being suspended by the pandemic, this was the first time in three years that the Fair was once again held completely in-person. The energy was nothing short of electric, and the crowds were large and enthusiastic.

From left to right: Artist Amino Chen, the group's translator, authors Yi-Hsum Chang and Po-Ching Chen speak with Publishing Perspectives' Porter Anderson (far right) about their creative processes

We all worked in various capacities with the staff of Publishing Perspectives, and my particular assignment was working with the publicity team, gathering content for their social media accounts. I spent my days traversing the Fair, searching for noteworthy events and panels, taking photos and gathering quotes from various panelists, which I would then share with the team. One of the highlights for me was having my photos and videos posted to the Frankfurt Book Fair’s official Instagram story!

During my days at the Fair, I was able to gain a truly global perspective of the publishing industry. I sat in on panels from Taiwan, Germany, Egypt and many others.  On our final day in Germany, we visited the historic city of Heidelberg, where we toured a centuries-old castle, sampled local cuisine, and walked the narrow cobblestone streets.  It was a wonderful way to cap off our visit.

I am so grateful to have had this opportunity and I hope I will be able to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair again in future years!

Carolyn Schweitz: A Front Row Seat

I was assigned to the Frankfurt Studio, which hosted daily panels featuring speakers from all facets of the publishing industry. It was a diverse, international forum—the panels and discussions were held in a variety of languages, and the conversations were rich and enlightening. We heard from CEOs about the digital frontier in publishing and the new audiences that will be reached through digital formats; there were authors from Taiwan and the Arab world; new storytelling startups were awarded; innovative learning materials were celebrated, and changes to academic journals were noted.

One of the highlights was the announcement of this year’s Astrid Lindgren award, which is awarded to the individual or institution who emblemizes long-term, sustainable work and promotes young people’s literature and children’s rights on a global scale. Two of my favorite moments were getting to see illustrator Axel Scheffler draw the Gruffalo in real time, and getting to hear from Spotify about their new venture into the world of audiobooks. All in all, it was an amazing three days where I had a front-row seat to some of the global publishing world’s most fascinating and insightful professionals.

Illustrator Axel Scheffler (left) in conversation with Katrin Hörnlein (right) at the Frankfurt Studio

Sarah Campbell: Deals and More Deals

After a very busy first morning distributing the Publishing Perspectives magazine throughout the International Hall, I was assigned to the Literary Agents (LitAg) Center.

Frankfurt is considered the most important book fair in the world for international deal-making, which was certainly in evidence while we were there. The LitAg was lively--constantly bustling with agents and publishers from all corners of the globe meeting to buy and sell rights to their books.  I was stationed at one of the reception areas where I provided directions, answered questions, and handled requests. It was lovely to see the intersection of cultures through a shared goal: introducing new literary voices to global markets. By assisting these international professionals, I felt as if I had a small part in facilitating multinational deals, and I could imagine what it might be like to work in foreign rights.

I couldn’t have asked for better co-workers than the German team in the LitAg. They were not only welcoming but extremely supportive, and a joy to work with. I also had the best time getting to know the other NYU students on this trip. We bonded more than I could have imagined during our week in Frankfurt, and I am coming away from the experience having made some lifelong friends.

Theresa Brown: On the Ground Reporting

As a volunteer journalist for Publishing Perspectives, I had so many amazing opportunities to talk to industry professionals, attend panel discussions, and explore upcoming books, not to mention reporting and writing about what I observed. The fair featured multiple interesting discussions about the way technology is impacting the book world, with social media platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram paving the way for backlist success, and allowing for more widespread marketing for new releases. One of my favorites was a conversation between Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, and Charlie Redmayne, CEO of HarperCollins UK. The two discussed how the industry has changed throughout the last few years and what to expect in the upcoming year with the changes in technology and a recession looming.

I also had the opportunity to observe the many publishers at work. I sensed a joy and excitement to be back at the fair, as well as fears for the future as the price of producing books continues to increase worldwide.

I am so grateful to have had the experience of traveling to Germany and I look forward to going back!


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