Germany's "other" bookfair opened in Leipzig on Wednesday. It's smaller than the annual Frankfurt book fair but offers some things Frankfurt doesn't have.
Read any good books lately?
Germany is where literary greats like Goethe and Schiller made their home. German authors like Thomas Mann, Heinrich Böll and Günther Grass have won the Nobel prize for literature. And there are some 4,800 book stores in Germany.
Germans love to read - so why shouldn't Germany also have two renowned book fairs?
The Frankfurt book fair takes place every fall and is undoubtedly the most important trade fair of its kind.
But in spring of every year, there's that other book fair in the eastern German town of Leipzig. It's smaller than the fair in Frankfurt but has an atmosphere just of its own. Many authors say they prefer Leipzig to Frankfurt because this fair is more intimate. And many literature fans enjoy the fact that they can meet writers up close here.
This year, more than 1,000 readings and literary discussions are scheduled in Leipzig during the four days of the fair. Some 1,200 authors, publishers and politicians have announced they'll attend. And close to 2000 publishing houses from 27 countries will present their newest releases to the public.
The special focus in Leipzig is on literature from central and eastern Europe. The city has strong traditional ties with the East. They date back to the days when Leipzig was known as the publishing capital of communist East Germany.
More than eleven years after the reunification of Germany, booksellers still detect a discrepancy between East and West this year. In a survey, 41 percent of the book stores in eastern Germany said business had declined. In the West, only 33 percent said things had gotten worse.
Dieter Schormann of the German Association of Booksellers attributed this to the recession. The economic downturn and the rise in unemployment was especially noticeable in eastern Germany. People just don't have the buying power, Schormann said.
One of the business sectors that suffered most were travel books. After September 11, that market almost collapsed. The Association of Booksellers hopes that it will recover as the tourist season gets under way again.