Reading Matters

Book Stores Under Fire But Don’t Shoot Back

Book store chains aren't dead after all.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s book industry is one of the strongest in the world, but its past strength means that publishers are unwilling to face the threats they face head on.

  • Facts


    • The world’s larges book fair takes place in the city of Frankfurt once a year.
    • The Frankfurt book fair first began in 1949 and is expected to attract more than 300.000 visitors in 2014.
    • Around 65 percent of those who attend come from outside Germany.
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In this age of digitalization, declining newspaper circulation and a struggling print business, it is amazing that publishers, booksellers and book-lovers still gather to celebrate reading. But they are heading to Frankfurt this week to attend the world’s largest book fair.

The fair has always been a place where writers, literary agents and publishers come to show off their skills, bid for new work and sign contracts. In many ways it still is, but it is also fast becoming a place where the industry gathers to lament its decline.

It seemed bleakly appropriate that the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, chose the opening day of the fair to announce the launch of a flatrate-book-app in Germany, where customers pay a monthly subscription to then “borrow” from its electronic library of 650,000 books, of which 40,000 are in German.  The new Amazon app – the literary equivalent of Netflix or Spotify – is giving customers access for €9.99 per month. The service includes best-selling authors such as Hera Lind and Nele Neuhaus.

In many ways the Frankfurt Book Fair, which opens to the public on Saturday and Sunday, is more of an international than a German event. Around 65 percent of the 7,000 exhibitors are foreigners.

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