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Germany

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: Russia-Ukraine War

Dnipro, A Heinous Attack Sparks Hard Questions About Weapon Supplies — On Both Sides

After Dnipro was left devastated by one of Russia’s deadliest attacks on Ukrainian civilians to date, the problem of arms delivery in a war that keeps escalating has never been more urgent.

Photo France's AMX-10 RC light tanks

France will be sending AMX-10 RC light tanks to Ukraine, but has not committed to heavy combat tanks.

Gouhier Nicolas/Abaca via ZUMA
Pierre Haski

The Russian missile that struck a residential building on Saturday afternoon in Dnipro killed at least 40 people, a number that keeps growing as bodies are discovered under the rubble in the central Ukrainian city. It appears to be a war crime with no legitimate target near the neighborhood.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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This bombing is also particularly informative about what’s happening right now on the Russian side of the war: The KH-22 cruise missile used is designed to sink an aircraft carrier, the biggest one in Moscow’s arsenal.

This precision missile was fired from an aircraft hundreds of miles away and has no link whatsoever to the target.

This enormous gap between the type of missile used and its ultimate target might actually reveal a missile scarcity in Russia, after weeks of continuous bombing in Ukraine. Tapping into strategic Russian weaponry (the KH-22 can be equipped with nuclear warheads) can never be justified considering the innocence of the target. Russian arms plants running at full capacity, for the time being at least, cannot keep up supplies.

But this tragic strike is also a clear sign of a progressive escalation in a war that, at this stage, shows no signs it can be stopped.

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