NZ stars at huge book fair

NZ Newswire October 8, 2012, 5:03 am

Guest of honour status at the biggest book fair in the world is already reaping New Zealand extraordinary results, a publisher says.

The annual Frankfurt Book Fair, which opens on Wednesday (NZ time) and runs for five days, features 110 countries and attracts 300,000 visitors, 100,000 buyers and 10,000 journalists.

The decision to attend as the high-profile guest of honour was announced last year and New Zealand authors and performers have been in Germany showcasing Kiwi artistic talents for most of this year, with 66 writers and 40 publishers attending the fair.

The guest-of-honour invitation reportedly was extended first to Australia, which turned it down as too expensive. However, Auckland University Press director Sam Elworthy says the results already are extraordinary.

"New Zealand being country of honour has got a whole lot of new publishers and media and readers in Germany excited about this country's authors and books and ideas.

"Typically five to 10 New Zealand titles are published in Germany each year. In 2012, it looks like 100 New Zealand books will be translated and published in German."

He was confident that enthusiasm would roll over into other markets and into the future.

The New Zealand campaign has been put together on a $5.8 million budget, funded primarily by government agencies such as Creative New Zealand, and covers a lavish pavilion intended to make a lasting impression.

Mr Elworthy, who is also the Michael King Writers' Centre chairman and first attended the fair in 2002, said hundreds of thousands of books were published around the world every year.

"Only a few of them will be noticed by media and book buyers and readers. It's local publishers who determine what gets noticed and what doesn't and it's at the book fair that these publishers from around the world get to meet up, see what people in different parts of the planet are publishing, and decide what books might make a splash in their market."

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