Frankfurt Book Fair 2014

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A couple of weeks ago I went to the Frankfurt Book Fair to get to know the landscape of art book publishing. I am currently planning to prepare one or two of my projects as photography books and so I wanted to see which publishers are out there and what kind of printing quality can be achieved. The easiest way to get a good overview about anything to do with books is to go to one of the book fairs. I have been to the Leipzig book fair several times and enjoyed it very much each time, but Frankfurt was new to me, both as a city and as a location for a book fair. The Frankfurt Book Fair is actually the biggest trade fair for books worldwide, so this was really the best place to see what was what.

The whole experience of the book fair was somewhat surreal to me. I went as a normal visitor on the weekend and picked the day that also had the Cosplay Competition Finals on the schedule so that I could indulge in some portrait photography. I shot several rolls of colour film – which was unusual in itself considering that I still shoot mostly black and white – and got the opportunity to take pictures of some people in pretty cool outfits with my Rollei. Although I don’t pretend to understand the Cosplay community at all, I found them a rather open bunch, always happy to have a conversation and particularly eager to be photographed.

The book fair itself was really packed and fantastically big. In fact it was so big that I didn’t manage to see everything I had originally planned, also because I spent quite a bit of time photographing the cosplayers. I saw two halls – the first one with the mainstream publishers, comics and tv channels, which really was too packed to look at anything in detail – and the hall with the art books, which was my main interest at the fair. There I saw some pretty amazing books and was so impressed with some of what I saw that I actually bought two books. One book that I really wanted to get was sadly already sold out at the fair. It was Nelli Palomäki’s “Breathing the Same Air”, which totally blew me away when I looked at the exhibition copy. I will definitely get a copy of it when I get the chance.

One thing I learned from this year’s visit to the fair is that business is best done during the week as a trade visitor rather than as a public visitor on the weekend. Most of the people left at the stalls were sellers and so I didn’t really get to talk to the publishing people themselves. However, I already suspected as much before going to the fair, so I wasn’t disappointed at all. In fact, I had a great time at the fair, got some great cosplay shots and got to buy a few nice books half price.

I can also definitely say that it was really educational with regard to the quality of art book publishing out there. It almost convinced me that going the route of traditional publishing instead of self-publishing might be the way to get the best printing quality. I still need to research this further, but the traditional publishers really had an edge. That said, the Blurb printing quality – as an example for print on demand – is still great, especially when I compare it with the shoddy black and white prints that they produced in the Joel Meyerowitz book I bought recently. I’m not quite decided yet, but I think I’ll at least approach some traditional publishers to see whether they might be interested at all.

I am still processing the film from my Frankfurt trip, but for now I will show you some digital shots that I took in the halls. I was shooting cheap ISO 400 colour film, so the halls were just too dark for film photography. Next time I go to a fair I will definitely pack some Cinestill 800T for taking pictures in the halls as well.

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All pictures taken with: Olympus Pen E-PL3 and Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Readers everywhere.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Very melancholic expression of the girl on the right. She was probably just tired.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

I don’t really want to imagine a book that needs this kind of advertising scheme at a book fair …

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

He scared the hell out of me for a moment.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Cosplayers everywhere, even working the stalls.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

We East Germans have a very schizophrenic relationship with bananas … In the GDR you could hardly get any, so after the wall fell I ate way too many of them. For years I couldn’t even look at them because of that …! By now I like them again. The titanic is a satire magazine who picked up on that before I even got sick of bananas with this funny title “My first banana”.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

“I can read” … well, alright …!

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Why they advertise mobile phones at a book fair remains a mystery to me.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Another cosplayer.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Some masked heroes walking the halls too.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

The crowd listening to a singer. Couldn’t find out who was playing because it was way too crowded.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

All the walking and standing and reading is definitely exhausting.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Using every minute to read.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Not sure he could read. Looking at books can be more than enough too though.

Comments

  • Surprisingly few people looking happy or enjoying themselves. Many of them quite the opposite judging from the look of their facial expressions.

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