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Frankfurt Book Fair

7 tips for success at Frankfurt Book Fair

Thérèse Coen is Rights Director at Hardman & Swainson, and has worked in Translation Rights, both in Publishing and Agencies. She currently divides her time between reading books for Frankfurt, preparing meetings for Frankfurt, sending out books pre-Frankfurt, talking to other rights people about Frankfurt and dreaming about Frankfurt being over. So here are her top tips for success at Frankfurt.

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Interview with Holger Volland, Vice President Business Development at Frankfurter Buchmesse and founder of THE ARTS+

Last year, THE ARTS+ was launched as a new meeting place for the cultural and creative industries. This year it is back – and will run parallel to Frankfurt Book Fair from 11 till 15 October. In the run up to the big event BookMachine and THE ARTS+ are organising an event in London. In our third interview with the team, we speak to the founder, Holger Volland.

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THE ARTS+ – New meeting place for the cultural and creative industries

Last year, THE ARTS+ was launched as a new meeting place for the cultural and creative industries. This year it is back – and will run parallel to Frankfurt Book Fair from 11 till 15 October. In the run up to the big event BookMachine and THE ARTS+ are organising an event in London. So here we interview Hendrik Hellige, Director of Business Development Arts & Visual Culture to find out more (this interview first appeared here).

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Business books

The truth about business books

I recently collaborated with an MBA student writing her dissertation. It was a fascinating experience, and a great opportunity for me to commission some top-class primary research into the way that the business of business books is changing.

One of the key findings of her research was that for business authors, the value of the book is its symbolic and cultural capital, and specifically the effect of that on the author’s brand, rather than any direct revenues. I wasn’t at all surprised to hear that, but I WAS surprised at the unanimity of this view, across all stakeholders: existing authors, aspiring authors, publishers and agents alike consistently expressed the view that:

‘book-related earnings, or economic capital directly derived from publishing a book, are not the main source of books’ continued value to the business publishing network. Rather, intangible benefits, such as brand building and enhancement through added prestige and a bolstered position of authority, contribute the most to books’ value. Tangible benefits were ascribed to publishing a business book, including more clients and more (paid) speaking opportunities; however, it is important to note that this economic capital was indirectly derived from the book… All stakeholders in the business publishing network generally hold this view, irrespective of their diverse experience and expertise.’

So how do we square this circle? On the one hand, business authors want to publish with a big name publisher, to maximize their symbolic capital, which will bring them significant economic benefits (‘more clients, more speaking engagements, more consultancy work’). But traditional publishers don’t get a sniff of the real value they help create – they can only monetize sales of the book itself, and quite frankly that’s not going so well these days.

There are fewer and fewer traditional publishers as the market consolidates, chasing fewer and fewer customer dollars. They’ve already cut costs to the bone – cut any further and they risk losing the reputation for quality that brings authors to them in the first place. Most are focusing their efforts on selling more books through the regular supply chain, but that’s a marginal game. They could raise prices, but that would mean fewer customers, and less visibility for their authors, which (it turns out) is what they’re mainly interested in, rather than revenue.


So where are we heading?

One potential solution is that the credibility of self-publishing or partner publishing simply stops being an issue. This has happened already for some authors: ‘As long as it looks professional,’ one of my authors told me when she signed up, ‘and works for my business, I’d rather have the control than a big name on the spine. Nobody really recognizes publishers’ names anyway.’

Another potential solution is that traditional publishers move to capture more of the value beyond traditional book sales through traditional channels. There are several possibilities here:

  • Servitisation – selling services to authors and/or readers that complement the publishing itself, such as coaching support, social media training, workshops, etc.
  • Non-traditional channels – thinking beyond both online and offline bookstores and supporting authors to sell direct, working with non-book retailers, negotiating B2B branded or promotional deals, partnering with service providers or network owners… the options are pretty much limitless, once you start looking.
  • Recalibrating the contract (which Richard Nash semi-joked about in Frankfurt – see my blog on his talk about 360-degree value) – changing the way we remunerate business authors to make it more of a profit-share, with incentives for the publisher to make the book work for the business.

Books are cheap, yet for business authors in particular they create enormous value. Imagine if more publishers saw their role with their authors as a partnership, maximizing the total value of the author’s brand, rather than simply trying to sell more copies.

Alison Jones (@bookstothesky) is a publishing partner for businesses and organizations writing world-changing books. She also provides executive coaching, consultancy and training services to publishers. www.alisonjones.com


Self-employed in publishing

Observing the audience: how reader analytics are influencing the industry

Reader analytics are garnering huge attention at the moment and there are at least four major talks at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair discussing how and why publishers and authors can collect data on their readers. But with reader analytics taking the spotlight in publishing, the debate over the ethics of data harvesting and its uses has been brought to our doorstep.

Consensual data is happy data

The big issues around data harvesting are not just what information businesses and official organisations are collecting about us, it’s whether or not they’re doing it with our consent. For once, however, publishing is ahead of the curve on getting this one right.

Although big boys like Amazon remain the mysterious bastions of data collection they’ve always been, smaller companies specialising in reader analytics are proving to be honest, open and respectful about harvesting data. For example, Jellybooks use “reading campaigns” for as-yet unreleased books to provide information to publishers, in a similar way that a screen test would for a film studio. Jellybooks gathers data from readers who have volunteered to be monitored and received a free digital copy of the campaign book, which is clearly marked, so that the reader remembers they’re being observed.

What’s more, while Jellybooks have said that “though in principle [non-anonymised] data could be provided to the author or publisher” they do not give it. Despite some rumours, Jellybooks also does not gather data by measuring eye-movement, but by observing how the reader interacts with their app as they read. Jellybooks, and most reader analytics collectors, are more interested in the time of day consumers read, how long they read for, when they highlight or perform searches on text, and the operating system, device or browser being used. These are added to information the reader voluntarily provides, such as gender and age.

When working with companies like Jellybooks, publishers don’t need to feel compromised about using this data: it’s not an invasion, it’s a gift!

Data driven decisions

But why is data such hot property in the first place? Some have wondered – both in horror and hope – that reader analytics might effect the editorial process, but Jellybooks has said that this misunderstands how people read and the kind of data reader analytics can collect: “Readers judge a book as a whole based on storyline, language, characters, plot, etc. and not on individual chapters.” Though the data can be utilised in this way, knowing that “x” number of people dropped off at page 57 is not necessarily helpful to an author or a publisher.

Excitingly, what reader analytics can provide are evidence-based assessments of how a book is likely to perform in the market. Data on completion rates and recommendations gathered during the commissioning stage, for example, can help reduce the risk inherent in signing new books by indicating whether or not a book might be popular.

Later in the publishing process, analytics can also help marketing departments figure out how much budget to assign to their titles, what their audience looks like and how to find them – are they young or old, male or female? Do they binge-read on beach holidays, meaning you should get WHSmith Travel on board, or do they dip in on their on their commute to work, meaning you can grab them with a poster on the tube?

Best of all, this data is available via third-party companies like Jellybooks, meaning that although publishers have to pay fees for their data, they don’t need to make the huge investments in building platforms and software that was previously required. This information is more easily available to publishers than ever before.

Scratching the surface

Reader analytics still clearly has its limits and they may never become a magic wand for book sales, but the truth is that the possibilities for using this data are only just starting to be explored. Moreover, the software for collecting this data are still in its – albeit impressive – infancy. Looking ahead there is talk of Jellybooks developing some kind of “FitBit for books,” which will take retail copies of books into account as well as the pre-sales titles currently available. Others claim that one day soon we will be able to use data to predict the next big bestseller.

There can be no arguing that data harvesting is here to stay. The only, opportunity-filled question remains: how else are we going to use it?


The Man Booker Prize at Frankfurt Book Fair

The leading literary award in the English speaking world, The Man Booker Prize, will be in the spotlight at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair (19-23 October). Ahead of the announcement of this year’s winner on Tuesday 25th October, the Book Fair will host three key literary events to help celebrate the finest fiction written in English today. Since 1969 The Man Booker Prize has brought recognition, reward and readership to outstanding new novels each year. The 2016 winner will be chosen from a shortlist of six novels, with the author of winning title receiving a cheque for £50,000.

Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, Gaby Wood, said: “We’re delighted to be celebrating the authors shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize at Frankfurt Book Fair. The Prize is open to all novelists writing in English; as such, it is a truly global award, and there is no better forum for the international exchange of literary ideas than Frankfurt.”

Three high-profile events, all taking place in Frankfurt on Wednesday 19th October, will discuss the importance of this prestigious award and will shine a light on this year’s contenders. Firstly, in the morning Gaby Wood will conduct a one-on-one interview with one of the shortlisted authors in the Reading Tent in the Agora. The name of this writer will be revealed in due course, after the shortlist is announced tomorrow, Tuesday 13th September.

Frankfurt Book Fair: A survival guide

It’s that time of year again. The Frankfurt Book Fair is upon us in all its quirky and miraculous Germanic splendour. The largest international book fair in the world by number of publishers, Frankfurt is an event that you simply must attend at least once in your career, just to experience it.

With over 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries and almost 300,000 visitors over five days it can be quite overwhelming if you’re not prepared. For old bags like me there’s a Ground Hog Day feel to the moment I rock up each October at the main entrance to the buchmesse, as it’s known in German. The good news is, that as an old hand, I can hopefully pass on a few tips which should make your experience easier and more enjoyable.

First of all, you may by now have established that the Book Fair is HUGE. Located in a sprawling array of ‘functional’ buildings in a range of styles from Bauhaus to Postmodern, many the size of football pitches, with interlinking walkways and escalators, you will need (a) a map; (b) a very comfortable pair of shoes; (c) a bottle of water and (d) a good sense of direction. Organising your meetings with space in between to switch locations between halls is vital.

Second of all, only a small part of the business of the fair will take place in your meetings. Frankfurt is a BOOK fair, a bringing together of publishing folk, and therefore, it is FULL of chatter, gossip, inspiration and laughter and all of this is at least as important as the deals done on the stands. Walk the foreign halls, browse, bump into people, and more than anything, bring your best party self and prepare to burn the candle at both ends.

For Frankfurt Virgins a vital initiation experience is to end up at the Frankfurter Hof bar in the small hours. This is the place to see and be seen and you will always find interesting people there. Having said that, do try to get to bed before 4am. Three or so days without sleep or light doesn’t usually bring out the best in people (as a really old bag, my novel tip is to take at least one night off with room service, leaving the endless late nights to the youngsters. Ahem)

Based on one and two above, my third tip is to know the vital kit to pack for Frankfurt. This includes: Berocca (to ward off colds / soothe hangovers), a spare pair of tights (for the ladies), your entry pass (!), lip balm, phone charger, chewing gum (for post hangover meeting-friendly breath), cold remedies (you WILL catch something in those airless halls), throat sweets (your voice will be in constant use), hand cream (those airless halls are very dry) and snacks.

Speaking of food, I am sorry to say that the majority of fare available to you at the messe is, erm, not particularly enticing. So tuck into a good breakfast at your hotel and find a nice deli off site to pick up lunch on your way in.

Getting around Frankfurt itself is easier than it looks and your entry pass doubles as a freedom ticket to the excellent public transportation. Taxi queues outside the messe are notoriously long. Avoid them. Or embrace them and use them as an excellent networking opportunity. Likewise the queues for the loo.

Don’t forget there are outside spaces between the halls. Make some time in your schedule to get outside and see the sun. I think I’ve mentioned the airless halls….

Make copious notes. It will all be a blur when you return. Include something distinctive about each person you meet so you can refer to it when you write to follow up.

Above all, relax and have TONNES of fun. Look forward to seeing you there!

*My thanks to many Pan Mac pals who shared their best tips with me for this article: Belinda Rasmussen, Jeremy Trevathan, Michele Young, Robin Harvie, Harriet Sanders, Jon Mitchell, Eve Roberts and Sarah Harvey!

Sara Lloyd is Digital and Communications Director for Pan Macmillan, managing the company’s digital, marketing and publicity departments. Thanks to Norah Myers for sourcing this guest post.

Will Brexit destroy the publishing industry?

Will Brexit destroy the publishing industry?

Sarah Harvey is Senior Rights Manager at Pan Macmillan* where she sells translation rights around the world. She has previously worked in Rights at Hachette, Quercus, and HarperCollins. She is a big fan of Europe and will be accepting marriage proposals from anybody with an EU passport.

As the dust begins to settle in our brave new Brexity world, Sarah Harvey tells us that cultural exchange is more important than ever.

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Business Club at Frankfurt

Book fair survey results are in

This month BookMachine and Frankfurt Book Fair ran a survey to find out more about your behaviour and opinions about book fairs. The winner received a week’s pass to the Business Club at the Book Fair. The results have been fascinating; here we show you a selection of the data.

1. Which Book Fairs (or related events) have you attended before?


2. How often do you attend Book Fairs?


3. When visiting a Book Fair, do you attend as:


4. What are you interested in when visiting a Book Fair?


5. How do you get your industry news?


66 % of respondents were female, 54% were employed and 46% were self-employed. The below graphs also show the age ranges, sectors and expertise of those who completed the questionnaire.

q8 q9 q10

Thanks to everyone who took part and congratulations to our winner, Carolina Connor.

Quarto Director wins Frankfurt Book Fair pass

Carolina Connor is the winner of a Frankfurt Business Club pass.

The Quarto Business Development Director was randomly picked as the lucky winner after completing a survey on the BookMachine blog, which had been set up in partnership with The Frankfurt Book Fair.

The Business Club weekly pass will allow Carolina to get more out of her time in Frankfurt with a working space, learning centre and networking hub. As a club member she can also benefit from access to a programme of talks, one-on-one consultations, and the FBF pre-conferences.

Business Club at Frankfurt

Calling all publishing people! 2 minutes needed

We would like to draw your attention to this very short survey from the marketing team at Frankfurt Book Fair, which will take less than 2 minutes to complete and could win you a Business Club pass.

By filling in the survey you are helping to shape Frankfurt Book Fair 2016 and future fairs – a very important task indeed!

One respondent, picked randomly on Friday 17th June, will be offered a week’s pass to the Business Club at the Book Fair. The Business Club helps you to get more out of your time in Frankfurt by offering you a working space, learning centre and networking hub. Club members also benefit from access to a programme of talks and the FBF pre-conferences.

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Frankfurt book fair

Top PR and marketing tips for an international audience

Kathrin Grün is the PR Manager for the Anglo team at the Frankfurt Book Fair and is in charge of all media relations with the international news outlets. She also coordinates the PR activities for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s offices abroad.

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the international publishing industry’s biggest trade fair, with around 275,000 visitors meeting in Frankfurt over five days. They network, they have meetings, they eat, they drink, they sleep occasionally, and they walk. A lot. In the PR and Marketing team we play our part in organising the 4,000 or so events which take place every October in the Business Club and on the Fair Grounds and, of course, we liaise with the press all year round. During the Fair itself, roughly 10,000 journalists descend on the Halls, so we are always on call.

But it’s not all about what happens during those 5 days in October. The Book Fair team are busy all year round, so it’s important that we keep abreast of what’s happening in the world of books, films and games on a daily basis, and that we keep our PR and Marketing messaging up-to-date.

As our thoughts focus on the London Book Fair, where we will meet up with friends and colleagues from around the world, I thought it might be useful to share some PR and Marketing tips with you, focusing on reaching an international audience.

1) Planning

Planning is crucial. Look at the entire calendar year ahead, so you can dovetail any promotion or announcement into an important/relevant event. Other international book fairs, like London and Bologna, are always good opportunities to unveil new initiatives. But timing is important, so make sure you don’t clash with something else happening at the same time, and spread your announcements out as much as possible.

2) Identifying what is relevant to each market

Do you research before sending out any press release or email blast. What might be relevant in one country may be totally irrelevant in another. Remember, if people can’t see how it affects them, they will bin it. If it’s not relevant, don’t send it.

3) Keeping the messages simple and easy to understand

Don’t get too close to the project or announcement you are working on, and don’t make it too complicated. Simple and concise language is always best. If no one understands your messages, it’s a waste of time and money.

4) Using social media to reach people internationally

Make the most of as many social media channels as possible. It’s the quickest and easiest way of getting to lots of different people around the world, all at once. And it’s free. But do remember about different time zones. It is pointless announcing something huge when half the world is asleep!

5) Trying to keep ahead of the curve

Keeping ahead of the curve is always a challenge, but it’s really important to be up to date with all the latest trends and developments around the globe. Try to build up contacts in as many international markets as you can, so they can keep you up to speed with what is happening where they live. Any press releases or marketing initiatives should reflect the very latest activities in a particular region, and should include the most recent statistics.

Seeking creative candidates: Win a stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair

For the second time, the Frankfurt Book Fair is awarding its Wildcard. The candidate whose exhibition concept manages to win over the judges will be awarded the grand prize: an 8-sqm-stand at the world’s largest fair for content.

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skills for publishing

Publishers implanting technology both inside and outside their businesses

This is a guest post from Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License, on technology, rights and licensing. 

October was, as expected, a busy month for the business. We had the pre, during and post Frankfurt Book Fair activity to deal with and we were also heavily involved in the Digital Book World (DBW) spotlight series that focused on rights solutions.

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