EIBF is back from another -the 75th!- edition of the Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF). Keep reading to discover some of the highlights of our participation this year at the biggest book fair in the world. 

Opening ceremony 

The 2023 edition of the Frankfurt Book Fair kicked off, as every year, with an opening ceremony at the Congress Centre of the Frankfurter Messe. 

This year’s FBF marked a significant 75th anniversary of the world’s largest trade book fair, which was celebrated with an opening video that evoked some key moments in the history of this event. 

In front of a well-attended auditorium, the ceremony was joined by high-profile figures, including the German minister for Culture, Claudia Roth; the mayor of Frankfurt, Mike Josef; the director of the Frankfurter Buchmesse, Juergen Boos, and Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, Chairwoman of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association (Börsenverein). 

Slovenia, with its slogan ‘Honeycomb of words’, was the guest of honour country in the present edition of the fair, a role that was celebrated on stage by the President of Slovenia, Nataša Pirc Musar. Representing the country’s literary talent, the opening ceremony welcomed onstage the poet Miljana Cunta and the renowned Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. 

Following a controversial speech from Žižek that, primarily addressing the Israel-Hamas war, prompted interruptions from part of the audience, Mr. Boos went back onstage to point out the Book Fair’s function as a place where freedom and tolerance have a central role. After that, Ms. Schmidt-Friderichs declared the 75th-anniversary edition of Frankfurter Buchmesse open. 


EIBF Team 2023 FBF​The now traditional group photo of the entire EIBF Secretariat team, following the opening ceremony of the 75th Frankfurter Buchmesse

Day 1 

The first day at the fair started for the EIBF team with an agenda full of meetings and events with various stakeholders. 

In the morning, we had the opportunity to attend a presentation on the European book market statistics of 2022, an event from our colleagues at the Federation of European Publishers (FEP).


FEP data presentation 2023 FBF

Ricardo Franco Levi, FEP President, and Enrico Turin, FEP Deputy Director and Economist, announced that total turnover for the analysed markets in 2022 experienced a +1.3% from 2021. The data also presented a rebound in sales from bookshops, which grew their share as the main distribution channel for book sales. 

The morning continued with several meetings and events, including the opening of the Bulgarian stand at the fair. 

On Wednesday afternoon, EIBF's Policy Advisor Daniel Martín Brennan, joined a panel discussion at the International Publishers Association (IPA)'s 3rd Sustainability Summit. Daniel went through some initiatives from the RISE Bookselling project, explaining how sustainability is at their very core and a cross-cutting priority (the “S” stands for Sustainability after all!). For instance, the Industry Insights on Book Returns is a unique resource that sheds light on the returns dynamics across different book markets, exploring what works, what doesn’t, how sustainable these practices actually are and how we can make the process more efficient and with a lower environmental impact.


IPA 3rd Sustainability Summit​EIBF's Policy Advisor Daniel Martín Brennan, at the 3rd Sustainability Summit, organized by IPA in Frankfurt


At the same time, the Frankfurt Studio was home to an event with winners of the European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL), where Jasmin B. Frelih, 2016 winner from Slovenia, and the 2022 winner, Georgian author Iva Pezuashvili, sat down and discussed with Martina Vidaić, the winner of the present edition of the EUPL. 


EUPL 2023 FBF​The European Union Prize for Literature winners Jasmin B. Frelih (2016, Slovenia), Martina Vidaic (2023, Croatia), and Iva Pezuashvili (2022, Georgia) at the Frankfurt Studio. Image: Johannes Minkus / Publishing Perspectives


Later that day, we listened in to the event “From Inclusion to Innovation: How Accessibility is Transforming the Book Value Chain” to get up to date with initiatives within the book sector and upcoming European legislation on accessibility. Most highlighted was the European Accessibility Act, an EU Directive coming to force in June 2025, obliging products and services to be accessible to people with various forms of disabilities. In the book world, this directive will apply primarily to e-books and retailers’ websites. 

To complete this eventful first day, EIBF celebrated the traditional dinner with members, ahead of the Annual Conference. This evening was an occasion to celebrate a year especially significant for EIBF, as it saw the 1st RISE Bookselling Conference, held in Prague last March. 


EIBF FBF dinner 2023


Day 2 

The second day at the Frankfurt Book Fair started with the 2023 EIBF Annual Conference, gathering most of our members, as well as new partners, booksellers and representatives of the book industry from across the world. 


2023 EIBF Conference


The programme kicked off with a keynote speech by bookseller and EIBF’s Executive Committee member Iris Hunscheid, who shared the innovative contributions of MVB’s Lesemotive, an AI tool that helps booksellers arrange their store based on customers’ reading rationales. 

On behalf of the guest of honour country, Slovenian literary agent Zala Zagorsek Golob, member of the independent publishing house VigeVageKnjige, offered a fascinating take on the book market in her country. 

The audience was also able to listen to a panel session on the topic of banned books in the US, in which booksellers Kate Layte (Papercuts Bookshop, Boston, MA) and Cheryl Lee (44th & 3rd Bookseller in Atlanta, GA) sat down with EIBF’s Policy Advisor, Daniel Martín Brennan, to exchange views on this urgent issue that underscores big concerns about freedom of expression in the country. 

After a short break, the conference welcomed onstage Georg Haeusler, Director of Culture, Creativity and Sport at DG EAC, European Commission, who delivered an address to the book sector, praising its role as an essential contributor to the sharing of knowledge and culture across countries. 


Georg Haeusler​Georg Haeusler, Director of Culture, Creativity and Sport at DG EAC, European Commission, during his address at the 2023 EIBF Conference


Hazel Kenyon, Director of Book Research at NielsenIQ, was in charge of offering an exhaustive analysis of the book trends that are currently gaining traction around the world, paying particular attention to the direction in which these trends might indicate the market is heading. 

Finally, the EIBF conference also gave space to this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair International Translators Programme, with a panel session that explores the often overlooked role that translators play in bringing literature closer to other cultures. This panel was moderated by John Mutter, editor-in-chief at Shelf Awareness, and featured Sulagna Mukhopadhyay, a translator and teacher from India, and Tiya Hapitiawati, translator and acquisition editor at the publisher Moooi Pustaka, in Indonesia. 

Next up was the EIBF’s General Assembly, where we presented an overview of EIBF’s policy and communications activities over the past year. The GA also served as an opportunity to present the different calls to action from RISE Bookselling’s campaign on ‘Reviving the high street’. 

In parallel to this, EIBF also facilitated a meeting with different bookselling schools from around Europe. Representatives from L’École de la Librairie (France), Scuola Librai Italiani (Italy), Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruiperez (Spain) and MediaCampus Frankfurt (Germany), exchanged views on how the bookselling profession is formally trained in their respective countries, and laid the groundworks for a more regular collaboration, aimed at sharing information and best practices with each other to improve the professionalization of the next generation of booksellers.  


Bookselling schools 2023 FBF​Representatives from various bookselling schools from all around Europe, after their first meeting in Frankfurt

After these two days of relentless meetings and events, that was another edition of the Frankfurt Book Fair under the belt of the EIBF team. Back in Brussels, it’s time to take stock of the key learnings of this experience and employ them to the best advantage in our future activities!