Saturday, November 30, 2013

Frankfurt Book Fair opens amid debate over Apple, Amazon and Google


The world's largest book fair has opened in Germany with the spotlight on the growing turf war between traditional booksellers and global tech giants. Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to attend the fair.

Between Wednesday and Sunday, the Frankfurt Book Fair will feature 7,300 exhibitors from 100 countries, put on around 3,000 events and play host to an estimated 280,000 visitors. The fair showcases international publishing and its crossover to film, video games and merchandising. It was officially inaugurated on Tuesday before doors open on Wednesday.

Many of the publishers, authors and sellers attending will have their own ideas on some of the main themes of the fair: the challenges of online trading, the future of the traditional bookstore amid falling sales, and the opportunities and challenges presented by Internet companies with digital publishing in their sights.

Organizers have warned against the domination of tech giants, saying traditional publishers are feeling the need to be "big," with the merger this year of Penguin Random House as an example.

They also point to need for diversity in what people read and how they read it, and the increasing number of start-ups fighting back with innovations in the search for a viable business model.

"The dividing line is no longer between old and new, print and e-books, analogue and digital," said Juergen Boos, the director of the Frankfurt Book Fair.
"Instead it runs between those who have a passion for content and who want to provide access to it, and those who don't really care what they're selling."

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