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Frankfurt book fair opens with focus on New Zealand

The world’s largest book fair has opened with 7,300 publishers attending. New methods of publishing are a hot topic at the five-day meeting, with New Zealand selected as the country taking center stage.

The fair opened on Tuesday with publishers from 100 countries looking for successful titles to republish in their own languages.

Some 1000 authors are present, among them 2009 Nobel Literature Prize winner Hertha Müller. The five-day fair is the world's biggest market-place for the rights to translate books.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Simon William were among the guests attending the event.

Watch video 02:57

New Zealand honored at book fair

"The greatest natural resource of the German people is not under our feet but between our ears," said Westerwelle, speaking at the opening.

There is an annual focus on one country with this year's limelight falling on New Zealand.

About 70 New Zealand authors have made their way to Germany to attend, including thriller writers Paul Cleave and Paddy Richardson. The country's publishing industry is hoping for a boost, with only about 10 books by its authors being published in New Zealand each year.

Ahead of the opening, Ursula Krechel who was awarded the German Book Prize 2012 for her book "Landgericht" ("District Court"), described as an “unvarnished examination of post-war German history.

More prize winners announced

The venue was also used to announce the names of 12 writers chosen as winners of the European Union’s Prize for Literature, with Austrian Anna Kim the only winner from a German speaking country.

"We hope very much that with the 5,000 euro prize awarded to each, the authors will be able to make themselves better known, both at home and in other countries," said EU Commissioner for Culture Androulla Vassiliou.

Winners also obtain funding from the EU Culture Programme to get their book translated into other languages.

The 7,300 conventional publishers attending the annual fair will be discussing the significance of e-books and will be watching the issue of crowdfunding to see if it is likely to supplement the traditional ways of starting off books.

Another new potential source of content is fan fiction, where readers write their own sequels to popular novels.

Some 300,000 visitors are expected this year.

rg,rc/kms (dpa, EPD)

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