A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
I’m not sure if there’s too many Master programs in Europe which get credit for visiting the Frankfurt Buchmesse, but it’s safe to say that if there are any others, none are as awesome as mine…
As alluded to in part 1, students from the MA in Book and Digital Media Studies recently visited Frankfurt and got their fair share of the action (pun possibly intended… groan). To put it in terms we all understand, the Buchmesse is indeed the biggest music festival of the book world, with the headline acts, the big publishers, trying to buy and sell the rights to their upcoming publications across the 2012-2013 cycle. Harper Collins, Penguin, Hachette, Random House and the like, all with their various imprints and product lines, go toe-to-toe with their competitors, snatching up authors through advances, and the rights to sell books internationally under their name.
Apart from the headliners, just like at a festival, there’s plenty else to get stuck in to. Small acts play on the side stages, up-and-coming performers and hack misfits, one wonderfully suited businessman may sit in his stall all day wondering where his market or his meetings may have gone, while a shabbily dressed, IT Crowd wannabe is flatchat with prospective clients for his dubious e-reader. Antiquarians line the halls in one section, their oddball wares extending from the divine to the ridiculous; fancy some 13th Century manuscripts with your wine gums? Some pre-Darwinian natural history essays? Let’s talk; let’s do some business.
Leideners all are naturally perplexed when I say I study Book and Digital Media Studies. It’s a mouthful that needs further explaining. We were in Frankfurt as part of a core subject which aims to bridge theory and practice, by introducing us to the publishing industry face-to-face. As part of the trip, which is entirely run by the faculty, I met many publishers (sorry I didn’t make it to you Katharina!), including the head of massive Dutch academic firm Brill, a Slovenian children’s book publisher, and more importantly, had a nice chat with Scribed, a publisher from my home town. Networking is the game at Frankfurt, and it’s great BDMS students get to get involved!
The trip to Frankfurt isn’t just about the fair though, just as the BDMS program is not just about the future of publishing. Living by the motto that to know where we are going, we must know where we have been, the group also had the chance to visit the Gutenberg museum in nearby Mainz. There was also an excellent tour of the Hessian Printing Museum in Darmstadt which took the team across the technological advance from Gutenberg to the modern day. It’s also where the last remaining active typographic workshop is in Europe!
So now I’m back it’s back to real life, real study, real work in Leiden, but it was a great adventure and a showcase of my degree so far! Maybe I’ll see you there next year! 🙂