On 29th January organisers announced that the Leipzig Book Fair, the main Spring Event for the German book industry, has been cancelled for the second year running and replaced with an online event.
“With the cancellation of the Leipzig Book Fair there is no longer a place for the industry to understand themselves” writes Helmut Böttiger for the Deutschlandfunk Kultur website.
“The corona pandemic hits the literary business at a time in which it has got into a crisis, with the Internet acted like a rapid acceleration machine. There are now various publication options that compete with the established routes between publishers, booksellers and readers. There are noticeable changes in the concept of literature and the way literature is talked about. That would certainly have been an issue at the many official and informal forums at the Leipzig Book Fair.
“For a long time culture had been viewed as a separate field that was a matter for a special minority and was not valued in economic terms. Now, however, it is inevitably a part of what politicians like to call the “creative economy”. Literature forms a market segment, albeit a comparatively small one.
“That means: The business of communication seems to be more relevant to society than talking about aesthetics, about the connection of form and content, about literature as a form of art - the necessary foundation. However, often the audience is smarter than the media and marketing experts assume.
“A writer can be more than just a service provider. This possibility flares up again and again in great moments. It is a shame that the Leipzig Book Fair this year cannot be a place of self-understanding for an industry whose identity crisis is becoming more and more apparent.”