Virtual Exhibitors, Agents at Frankfurt to Have Multiple Platforms

The Frankfurt Book Fair is taking registrations for people who will be attending the fair virtually, including publishers, literary agents, and other members of the publishing community. While no schedule of events has yet been announced, the organizers clarified some of the details surrounding how virtual exhibitors, including agents and rights representatives, will be able to participate in the upcoming fair and various opportunities for them to present their work.

Key to this will be the Exhibitor Catalog, which will serve as a focal point for the exhibitor or attendees presence. Each exhibitor will have the ability to create a profile that will include a logo, link to their company’s website, social media buttons, and further information. A one page document, such as a rights guide or company presentation, can be made available here as well. The catalog is expected to go live online by mid-September.

Exhibitors and participants will also be able to list and promote their own physical, digital or hybrid events, either public or private, in a dedicated calendar of events. The calendar, which is also expected to go live by mid-September, will be searchable.

The new Frankfurt Rights platform will serve a digital online catalog of rights available at the fair. Each digital exhibitor, including agents and rights holders,will be allowed a free company profile, where they can upload their rights guides, title information, rights availability, and previews of titles available to international participants after request. This platform is expected to go live by the end of September.

Many publishers, agents and rights holders are well into the process of setting up their own meetings independent of the fair and its various platforms. Unfortunately, without the physical fair to serve as a focal point, the prospect of organizing virtual meetings with vast time differences across the world has proven daunting, with the concern that meetings might last over several weeks.

Riky Stock, v-p of the Frankfurt Book Fair in New York and the individual responsible for overseeing the Literary Agents Center, said that some agents are looking at experimenting with new ways to pitch titles. Among these ideas is to host a single pitch session webinar for numerous people at one time. This format, which was also employed earlier in the year at Bologna, allows the company pitching to reach a wide group all at once. The group might include existing clients and new prospects and help the pitching company reach those who are both high and low priority at the same time.

Cecilia de la Campa, executive director of global licensing and domestic partnerships for Writers House, pivoted to hosting a pitch webinar during Bologna quickly after the in-person fair was cancelled in March. She said that shifting to a webinar format is an effort to make the best out of a challenging and situation and is no replacement for in-person meetings. Nevertheless, she said, “There’s a ton of opportunity with the webinar format: more industry professionals can tune in digitally than would otherwise attend the fair, such as marketing and junior editorial staff from international publishers, film and TV contacts; the recording can be saved/accessed afterwards; we can reach publishers with whom we don’t yet have major business; and we can announce any exciting new deals/sales on the spot to everyone at once.”

She added, “Hopefully, with enough rights teams scheduling webinars, rather than 200+ individual digital meetings stretched over 2 months because of the time-zone constraints, we can all avoid being burnt out! And perhaps we’ll be able to recreate that ‘feeling’ of the fair, with the big presentations and hot projects condensed around the actual week of the book fair.”

At present, fair organizers are planning for a hybrid fair comprised of both virtual and in-person events, though few members from the North American publishing community are expected to make the trip to Germany.

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