At Frankfurt Fair, Imaging A New Life For "Brick And Mortar" Bookstores

Booksellers at last year's book fair.
Booksellers at last year's book fair.

FRANKFURT - Even before the world’s biggest book fair opened this week in Frankfurt, figures from a study conducted by the PwC consulting firm added more worry for printed book dealers about the uncertain future of their trade.

According to the study, released Tuesday, demand for e-books is getting ever-larger in Germany. By 2015, the turnover for fiction alone is estimated at over 350 million euros, or 6.3% of the market. By the end of 2010, only some 20 million euros worth of fictional e-books had been sold. Meanwhile, this year the traditional retail book business is once again showing a drop of just about 5%.

"To me, that is a figure that spells a need for reflection," said Gottfried Honnefelder, president of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association.

Nonetheless, he said he was optimistic about the future of bricks and mortar, as book stores fueled by creative new ideas were opening up all over Germany. "My impression is that the time for independent bookstores has come,” he said.

In his opening speech, book fair director Juergen Boos referred to changes happening in the book industry right now as the most significant since the introduction of the printing press. "New players are coming into the sector every day, creating new product ideas and business models. You could call this development the ‘big bang’ of publishing."

The changes were most readily apparent in media targeting of the children's and young adult markets, he said, which is why -- with 1,500 exhibitors and 340 events -- they were a focal point this year at the Frankfurt festival.

Another major highlight this year, Boos said, is the launch of the "Roadmap to Publishing Trends" (in English here).

There are some 7,300 exhibitors at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year – slightly less than last year (7,384). In 2010, there were 7,539 exhibitors. The fair runs until Sunday, October 14.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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