by Andrea Offermann
I went to the Frankfurt Bookfair in October, which is a huge event every year. Imagine a major airport filled with people and you have an idea of how big the fair is. I have never visited more than 3 of the 8 hangar sized halls filled with booths from publishers, and I usually stay 3 of the 5 days. Publishers from all over the world are there, presenting their new books and making licensing deals. It’s considered the biggest bookfair in the world, and I have no problem believing it.
For an illustrator, the fair is interesting in that many European publishers will take time to look at your portfolio at the fair, the German publishers even have official review dates and times. The German illustration organization, of which I am a member, offers seminars on how to start your career, present a good portfolio, and specific areas such as schoolbook illustration or comics. And of course seeing all the new books is very interesting to get an idea of what is interesting for publishers right now.
One hangar focuses specifically on childrens books and comic books. Seminars, discussions and reading hours with authors and illustrators complete the experience. This year, Kitty Crowther, renowned illustrator from Belgium and the 2010 ALMA award winner, was interviewed there, I was so inspired by her work and approach to her art and storytelling.
The Ebook was everywhere, though I got the impression that in Europe publishers are mostly still discussing and figuring out what to do with it (who knows though, they might just be careful with sharing information…). The first children’s books for Ebook were presented, but mostly it was a subject for the seminars. Apart from the possibilities, royalty for Ebook was also a subject for discussion, authors as well as illustrators seemed worried that royalty is cut very small by publishers.
Overall the bookfair is a really inspiring and also a bit overwhelming experience. If any of you should ever happen to be close by in October, you should drop by and take a look!