So what did you learn in Frankfurt this year?

…I would be asked,

fbm2009-panorama while still recovering from the ritual book fair cold & cough, and at the same time recapitulating the many many chats and conversations with friends and colleagues, customers and partners in 4 days that feel like, frankly, like a couple of weeks.

Thinking now, in retrospective, of all the self appointed custodians in defense of  „holy culture“ and the „holy book“, I must stress: Oh yes, how right they are! Look at my friend Gwyn, a true digerati indeed. What is he doing? Feeding his laptop a bun? Confounding reality and those virtual illusions? Oh my god!

We see, in fact, that the end of reason must be near indeed!


And yet, that future has already a long history, with lots of lost memories…

…remember this antique reading device from Sony? Was it in the good old 20th century? Or even earlier?


I think to remember some distant past.

Or that Rocket e-Book!


The funny thing about these e-readers on display at this year’s Frankfurt book fair, however, was the surprising fact to find them, the old ones as well as the most recent exemples, in a section called

…“Non Books“!


Whoever had decided this categorization was a wise person in fact. Much wiser than most publishing executives, and more knowledgable than all thoase association officials and conference organizers who, as a rule of thumb, tend to miss this crucial point largely: E-Books won’t be just books. They ARE non-books.

Now it is up to us to figure out what they will be really!

Personally, I suppose it is all about reading!


Even if readers don’t always look as we would imagine them.

It is true, that some would prefer that those readers never grow up, really.


This applies to individual readers…

…and even more so to reading communities:


The Islamic Republic of Iran chose to have not only ONE booth, but several, including one in the children section, next to all those Mangas, and one in the Middle East section.

By doing so,  they wanted certainly had the intention to heavily promote their self confidence and their strength – not anticipating at all that, attrackting a load of silent protesters, this would make the protest against each of its stands only much more visible all over the fair!!!

We learn: PR is a tricky thing. This must have also been the lesson taken by the official organizers of China when they opted for displaying not only books from the People’s Republic, but also a selection from Taiwan.


Hower, the ambitious organizers must have picked more books than the censor could read. And some of the books from Taiwan may tackle a sensitive issue which goes officially as the „One China Principle“.

Not being sure what these books contained exactly, the censor decided to place a bright green sticker, in Chinese and English, on every single Taiwan book chosen for the official selection.

This wonderful sticker read: „Any claim denying the One-China Principle in this book will be rejected.“


With a sense of irony, one may see in this action a globalized version of the Google-settlement „opt-out“ clause! We could dream up such „opt out“ references for many funny opportunities, I suppose!

Anyhow, it was a good fair


with everyone rushing from hall to hall, and most of us professional attendees were catching, as I already mentioned,  the ritual cold while we were making fun of ourselves.

Keep in touch! And: C u in Frankfurt next year!

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