After attending international book fairs for a few years, this is the first time for me to participate in a major one online. Comparing to my previous Frankfurt Book Fair experience, things are quite different this time.
I’ve got to give a big thumb up for the organiser. They did a fantastic job, working very hard to get a full experience online, and to provide all kinds of opportunities for all sectors of the book industry to have some exchanges.
After a few days of wonderful programs and online conferences, I have a few takeaways.
The first one is how heavily COVID-19 pandemic has weighted in people’s mind. The term was mentioned for so many times. This pandemic devastated some part of business, while gave rise to new opportunities and new initiative. People are resilient, finding different ways to cope. For instance, there are authors who sped up their writing process during the lockdown, and finished their writing plans ahead of the agenda.
The second one is that, probably for the first time, we could have a sneak peek at a corner of many people’s homes. I saw many bookshelves at the background. It is also interesting to notice all those small decorative items on the bookshelves. These small things, a picture of a dog or a small figurine, have breathed life into all those rows and rows of books. People who attended the fair love books, and they all love something else. This virtual book fair put a camera inside every participant’s house. It is “voyeurism” at plain daylight.
Another thing is how important Frankfurt book fair is to many people. There are folks who had made the trip to the book fair for nearly thirty years. What a sudden and an unexpected change this year. These people are really book industry veterans. There are a lot for me to learn from them.
There are also some funny stuff popping up here and there. One person commented that COVID-19 lockdown could be the perfect plot for hiding the body. And some technical errors allowed us to watch what was happening behind the scene. It was also sort of funny that many people wore headphones, myself included. And many of them glanced either sideways or downwards, myself included as well!
As a newbie, I absolutely did my part. This is only my second time at Frankfurt Buchmesse. On the virtual fairground, I presented MSL Master’s Chinese language learning products. The coolest part was to be able to use videos to showcase the Chinese Learning Pen and online Chinese lessons.
I attended many interesting conferences, and also joined a networking event, which I did not expect that there were two musicians performing there. Live music during an online event. It’s cool.
A question being asked many times during the book fair is what future looks like for the book industry? While nobody could really predict future, many did agree that things would not go back to what it was before the pandemic.
I’m sure everyone has some takeaways from this book fair. The organiser’s planning and execution have been great. However, as good as this FBM 2020 gets and the money I have saved from flights and hotel rooms, I still missed the opportunity to stroll around the fair ground and to stop at booths wherever I found something interesting.
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