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Books

Celebrating German literature at the Leipzig Book Fair

This major German book fair also claims to be the largest reading festival in Europe. An important award ceremony kicks off the event on March 16, before it opens its doors to the public over four days.

The place where book lovers and those who write them meet and greet, the Leipzig Book Festival has become something of an institution in the German-language publishing world.

The four-day event, held this year from Thursday to Sunday March 17-20, offers workshops for new and prospective authors, lectures and readings by famous writers and sales presentations by publishers eager to showcase this year's catalog.

The highlight of the trade fair takes place Wednesday, before the doors of the trade fair even open to the public. That's when several book prizes are awarded, including the Leipzig Book Fair Prize in three different categories and the prestigious Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding, endowed with a 20,000-euro ($22,200) cash prize.

It is given this year to the historian Heinrich August Winkler, who is considered one of the most important German historians.

The award pays tribute to his entire career, while specifically underlining the publication in 2015 of the fourth and final volume of his opus magnum "Geschichte des Westens" (History of the West).

A full program for booklovers and authors alike

The program for 2016 gives many a taste for the publishing trends in Germany as presenters and organizers address the topics on everyone's minds. For authors, there are seminars on personal branding, self-publishing and the increasingly important role of social media and blogging in order to increase sales and awareness, including a one-day seminar called the "Author's Roundtable."

Although the annual festival focuses on the German language book market, this year, the event organizers added for the first time an international book pitch for authors from around Europe to present their manuscripts to a field of editors and agents in a manner reminiscent of speed dating.

For teachers, there are presentations on how to get students of all ages engaged in reading and on how to feed the flames of curiousity in new readers who may otherwise be distracted in the age of technology. Children likewise get a special place at this trade fair, with one hall dedicated to the developments in children's and young adult books.

The program isn't limited only to the fairgrounds either. Under the heading, "Leipzig liest," or "Leipzig reads," readings are also held throughout the city in cafes, restaurants, book shops, night clubs and other public spaces. After-hours events even include a dance party in the city hall building. Held for the 25th time this year, this event is considered the largest reading festival in Europe.

For just a few days each year, the cultural capital of Saxon turns into a literature lover's playground.

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