Business as usual for publishers at the 53rd Frankfurt Book Fair

FRANKFURT – The global repercussions of September 11 have deterred a number of publishers from traveling to the 53rd Frankfurt Book Fair, but the program is going ahead as planned, said fair director Lorenzo Rudolf, as he welcomed the press on Tuesday. We are not going to let anyone dictate to us when and how we go about our business or carry on with our exchange of views. he said. A few hours later, Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos officially opened the fair. Stringent security measures are in place at this year’s fair, but organizers are making every effort to provide the platform and scope for authors, publishers and the media to pursue the exchange of inspiration and ideas in all the diversity that typifies the unique atmosphere of dialogue in Frankfurt, promised Rudolf. At the official opening, Stephanopoulos condemned what he called bigotry, violence and fanaticism which do not fit in with the principles governing modern society. The tragic events highlight the need for dialogue among cultures. At the same time Culture Minister Julian Nida-Rumelin conveyed German Chancellor Shroder’s – who was in the United States – wishes, while Frankfurt Mayor Petra Roth said the fair should be a place for peaceful confrontation. The show goes on Metal detectors and X-ray machines were the first thing visitors saw yesterday morning as the fair proper opened. Most saw the tough security measures as a necessary evil which allowed the fair to continue. Christiane Gunzi, editorial director of British children’s publisher Picthall and Gunzi said: It’s really important at a time like this that the book fair should go on. Susan Harris agreed. An American publisher of Northwestern University Press, who regularly participates in the fair, she insisted on making her scheduled trip as a matter of principle. It may seem strange to leave your country when it is in a state of war, she said, but life must go on. The Greek adventure Prior to the opening there was feverish activity at the Forum, a new area inaugurated this year by Greece, the guest of honor for 2001. The Forum’s high-tech installations guide the visitor through aspects of Greek life and culture in an imaginative use of multimedia. Like all exhibitions at the Frankfurt Messe, the book fair had to be assembled within a matter of days. As publishers scrambled to ready their stalls in another hall, and workers put the finishing touches to the kafeneion in the Forum, Frankfurt acquired a genuinely Greek flavor. By Tuesday night this had intensified when Maria Farantouri performed a selection of popular Greek songs in the auditorium. Musical treats continued yesterday with Agnes Baltsa and the State Orchestra Rheinische Philharmonie, conducted by Nikos Athinaios, performing at the Alte Oper. Giorgos Dalaras is due to perform tonight. Earlier yesterday, Stephanopoulos inaugurated the stand of the Greek Federation of Publishers and Booksellers, congratulating them on their often selfless contribution to Greek books in general. Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos awarded the Greek/German translation prize to Birgit Hildebrandt for her translation of The Mother of the Dog by Pavlos Matesis (Kastaniotis), while Soti Triandafyllou and Vassilis Vassilikos gave readings in the amphitheater. The figures This year 6,661 individual exhibitors from 105 countries are participating, and there are another 76 national and collective stands. The numbers are down a couple of percentage points from last year, a sign that business is much as usual.

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