The Pontas Agency has not missed a Frankfurt Book Fair since 1992 and this year 2020 would have been our 29th time in a row! However, for the first time since the fair started in 1949, we didn't travel to the world's capital of ideas and content. Nobody did. This year’s Frankfurt Book Fair was not the annual get together with over 300.000 visitors from the five continents, more than 7.400 exhibitors, 4.000 events and 10.000 journalists... It was 100% digital the second week of October.
This year, instead of having our tables at the Literary Agent’s Center inside the beautiful Festhalle, the hundred-year old venue we loved so much, we connected remotely with publishers, scouts and producers through the screens. We even tried to take part in some “Hof meetings”, when tens or even hundreds of people from the international publishing industry met through the screen pretending those casual encounters in the corridors and bars of the mythical hotel Frankfurter Hof.
On October 13th, Anna Soler-Pont took part in a panel within the free online conference about rights and licenses, organized by the book fair to give insights into the rights trade in a pandemic world (photo above left). It seems that and average of 2.000 people were listening at some point. And Maria Cardona was very active catching up about the hot titles and new projects with professionals we used to meet in Frankfurt these past years (photo above right), such as Swedish editor Gunilla Sondell from Norstedts Förlag (photo below).
Porter Anderson, the Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, wrote: “I’ve been mildly dismayed at this word virtual for so much of what Frankfurt and other major events this year are doing to keep everyone connected. The formats we’re using are digital, sure, but there’s nothing virtual about the speakers you’ll hear from, the colleagues you’ll communicate with, or the company you’ll keep during Frankfurt Week this year. Real people, real publishing, real books. Digital, not virtual.” And he also added: “We now have a better sense of what we cannot do in digital settings. And that makes the value of the great trade shows and book fairs and festivals of the world industry go up, not down. The importance of being able to gather physically now stands in sharp relief in our minds”.
Cheers to technology and to the forthcoming books despite these difficult times!