What an experience!
I’m not even starting to tell you how huge the fair actually is. It’s huge, by the way. Really, like, huge.
Luckily we had a press pass and could get in on Friday, while the public was allowed in only on Saturday and Sunday. Nonetheless, all the pavilions were much more crowded than I expected.
What struck me the most, however, was the genre of books presented.
As we and my Book-Guru surfed through the stalls, we glanced around to see what the publishing scenario would present us with, the upcoming season.
Well, let’s just say that, if you intend to sell your book to a publisher in the foreseeable future, you probably want to try something like: “How to live your life in 10 easy steps”.
If you’re into fantasy, let me suggest “How to live your life without a dragon (for now)” or “How to find your inner dragon” or even “Dragons: dos and don’ts of the fire blazing life”.
Yes, you got it. Self-Help is the great star, apparently. That and colouring books. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re a big guy like Penguin Random House or a small little independent like Melville House, you MUST have a colouring book in your ranks.
Big absent (at least in our humble opinion) was Science. With all the climate changing and renewable energy issues, we thought we would see much more scientific communication.
Enough of that. Now for the big star of the show: Indonesia.
The slogan went like this: “70.000 Inseln der Imagination”, which in English translates to “70.000 island of imagination.
More than imagination (even though there was plenty of it), the Indonesian pavilion gave out a sort of sacred aura, as if stepping through those doors we were stepping out of time. Ancient books stood on plinths, covered by glass. The writing told us they were thousands of years old and held the most important information, from medicine to history, to population data.
Then, projected all around, on tall fabric columns, were quotes from great Indonesian writers. One remains particularly dear to us:
My room is piles of poems
Vitreous windows, all is seen.
(1922 – 1949)
What can I say, the Western world could try to kill it, but Indonesia’s culture and imagination is stronger than anything else.
We stayed at the Frankfurt Messe one day. In the end, we were delirious – not to mention, lost trying to find the exit to the underground.
It has been a fantastic, enlightening and thrilling experience. A must-do for any author, writer, or anybody who does anything that has to do with books.
I’m back in England, now. I can’t wait to go back!