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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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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Hamas v. Netanyahu: Who Has More To Gain From Hostages-For-Prisoners Deal

The agreement for a temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was shaped by the political situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories. But now, the politics on the ground could change moving forward.

Hamas v. Netanyahu: Who Has More To Gain From Hostages-For-Prisoners Deal

People conduct rescue work among the rubble of buildings destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.

Pierre Haski


PARIS — If the terms of the hostage-for-prisoners agreement between Israel and Hamas are strictly adhered to, we're set to witness scenes filled with emotion on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

There is obviously nothing in common between civilians, sometimes very young children, taken hostage on October 7 on Israeli territory, and prisoners convicted for activities, sometimes violent, related to the Palestinian nationalist movement.

What's shared instead is the central place these scenes are bound to occupy in the collective imagination of both peoples and, therefore, the political impact it will carry.

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