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Book Fair Ends

DPA news agency (sms)October 19, 2008

The world's largest trade fair for books ended its annual expo in Frankfurt on Sunday, Oct. 19. It booked the largest number of visitors in its 60-year-history.

A stand at the book fair
The fair's stands emptied out for another year on SundayImage: DW

With an attendance of 78,218 on Saturday alone, the fair easily exceeded all previous attendance figures, in a year that saw Turkey feature as the show's guest of honor.

Closing the show on Sunday were readings by bestselling Irish author Cecilia Ahern -- daughter of former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern -- and Berlin cult-writer Martina Brandl.

The fair is a vital part of the world publishing industry, as the fair is the world's principal meeting place for world book publishing and a marketplace for book rights.

The participation of Turkey as this year's guest of honor at the fair has underlined the country's controversial balance between traditionalism and free speech.

Amnesty: Book fair will help rights in Turkey

Pamuk speaks during the opening ceremony at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Frankfurt welcomed Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk to the fairImage: AP

Global rights organization Amnesty International said on Sunday that Turkey's status as guest nation at the fair will have a positive effect on freedom of expression in the country.

"It doesn't change the situation in Turkey yet, of course, but it is a step on the path towards breaking taboos," Amnesty's Turkey expert Amke Dietert told German news agency dpa. "As long as there are serious restrictions in Turkey, we can't talk about freedom of expression."

Fair spokesman Thomas Minkus said the success of Turkey's participation was also reflected in the sales figures, and that "literature from Turkey is a literature that has established itself in Germany."

The financial crisis had also not affected the license and rights trading at the fair, which was up 8 percent from 2007, said Minkus.

Anselm Kiefer, a German sculptor, was awarded the German Book Trade Peace Prize in Frankfurt's St Paul's Church on Sunday.

Art historian and publicist Werner Spies gave a speech honoring Kiefer at the ceremony.

The Boersenverein, the German book publishers' and book-sellers' association, said Kiefer was an internationally renowned artist "who confronts his time with the disturbing moral message of the ruinous and the ephemeral."

The award comes with a cash prize of 25,000 euros ($34,000) and is usually given to book authors who promote international understanding.

China guest in 2009

Also attending the fair at the weekend were Nobel literature prize winner Guenter Grass, German prize-winning author Siegfried Lenz, Turkish Nobel-winner Orhan Pamuk and the Brazilian best-seller Paulo Coelho.

The 2009 guest of honor at the fair will be China, when, according to Frankfurt Book Fair Director Juergen Boos, the global publishing industry will "have the opportunity to make business contacts with the booming economic nation to a new degree."

"China will present its modern literature and culture to a world public, reflecting this dynamic process now under way in the country," said Boos.