Frankfurt Book Fair

This year’s personal premiere: I’ve visited the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Am I excited? Yes and no. Would I repeat it? Definetly. But let’s go step by step.

My daughter is, as I am myself, fond of reading books. Additionally to this my daughter has started to study Germanistic linguistics. So it deemed me a good idea to travel to Frankfurt and stick our noses a bit deeper into the world of the written word.

And so we did. My daughter and myself boarded a bus that took us overnight from Berlin to Frankfurt, bought our tickets and entered the Book Fair at 9 AM sharp.

At 9 AM such a fair seems empty. The cosplay area had still not been set up. Only a few people roamed the halls. If you ever visit any fair, I recommend you to do it early. The early bird is catching the worm, as we say in Germany. Walking through nearly empty halls gives you the chance to have a close and long look at the exhibits without standing in anybody’s was, without having to force your own way through the masses.

Projecting this onto a book fair you have the opportunity to take a book and stick your nose into it. Of course you can do this later to. But in the early morning things are quiet. There is less disturbance.

And you have a better look at the things in whole. You learn, what is where. You can make a better plan about where to go.

Having entered the first hall I’ve been an bit overwhelmed. Huge stands of all publishing houses – both important and unknown to me – were standing in clean rows. Books were neatly put into shelves and onto heaps. In fact it was so clean, that one nearly didn’t dare to take a book and have a closer look. And this was the first little disappointment. All the books seemed to be a bunch of paper printed with letters and sometimes pictures. But there seemed to be no life in the book shelves.

Still the life of books is not only within themselves. It’s also (if not most of all) in the people who read them, talk about them, present them. Taking a book in my hands I felt it come to live. But I missed people showing those books to me, seeing me look at a book and telling me about it, to wake my interest to buy it. Not that there were any chance to buy a book, I’d probably had wanted to buy. There were only a few exceptions, mostly smaller houses, were books were sold. Just those books didn’t catch me. And there were nobody, who might have recommended a book to me

And to give you my third disappointment: There had not been many new books. Actually I’m close to say there had not been any new book. Well, at least I had seen none.

I know of some books that had entered to store only a couple of weeks ago. And I had liked to get them into my hands, to see if they might at least nearly meet my expectations. There was none.

All that sounds quite negative, doesn’t it? Well, I’ve done something wrong, I’ve started with the disappointments. Then again this is all about the disappointments. Well, nearly. There had been the hall with the U.S. and Canadian houses. Actually they were a bit worse, because there was no life at all. Large spaces, little books.

So I asked at the beginning, whether I was excited and answered “Yes and no.” You know the reasons for the “No”. And what’s positive? What did excite me?

It’s all the rest. It’s the small but colorful world of the cosplayers, which showed up as their favourite book (or comic book) character and who celebrated the world(s) of books. We even paid a visit to the cosplay area. Halloween is near and who knows? Might have been, there was something useful in the cosplay world.

I’m always excited, if it’s about books and the written word. And later I saw, that I’m not alone. The hall became crowded and it was more and more difficult to find a path through all the people.

And I’m excited to have found someone else who is fond of the works of Terry Pratchett. Want to here a little story? So here it goes:

We’ve been at the stand of Tolino, a manufacturer of e-readers. Next to it an author presented his new book and my daughter were listening to him, which gave me a little time to have a closer look at the exhibited Tolino devices.

A young man saw it and we started a little conversation. I have to tell you at this point, that I am the owner of a Kindle. It’s not meant as an advertisement for the world’s largest internet store. It’s just a fact.

So in our conversation I said, that in my eyes the best device would be a reader for both Amazon’s Kindle books and the Tolino books. A Tablet could do this but a tablet is not really suitable for the use as an e-reader because its running time is to less – mostly due to the powerconsuming display.

The man agreed, that somebody who’d like to switch from Kindle to Tolino (or vice versa) needs a second device. On a tablet you might simply install the necessary apps… If only the tablet had an e-ink display.

We finally agreed to wait, what time brings. Maybe we have, what we want, in 10 years.

“In 10 years”, I said, “we have a watch with a hologram popping out of it.”

The young man smiled, said he had an analog watch and showed it to me. It was a mechanical watch that automatically winds up. I was impressed and  replied, that the only thing, that’s better, would be an hourglass.

“As in Pratchett’s novels”, answered the young man. “There’s no justice. There’s just me.”

So long words made short: There were some disappointments. But it may well be, that I had the wrong expectations. The Frankfurt Book fair is definetly worth a visit.

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