Toilet Rolls And The Frankfurt Book Fair

I've not quite got over my bout of guilt from flying to the Frankfurt Book Fair, but I'm recovering slowly, and glad to be back on sunny Hayling Island. By the way, that's not my boat in the picture of the Hayling pontoon at Langstone Harbour.

Now that my brain is settling back into normal mode (whatever that is) I thought I'd share with you the wonders of the Frankfurt International Book Fair.

This was my fourth visit to Frankfurt and for a time (three days for me, five for the poor suckers who had to stick it out to the bitter end) normal life was suspended. You are cocooned in this crazy, giant city of hurrying people, (except for the Italians, see below) along with hundreds of thousands of books, and teams of security guards scouring your handbags, briefcases and suitcases for the lost ark of the covenant

It never ceases to amaze me just how many people across the world work within the publishing industry, and what worries me is how such an industry with an exceptionally low pricing point, producing a product which isn't an FMCG product ( fast moving consumer goods) can survive. The answer, I suppose, is for as long as people want to read books, unless, of course, they all end up being given away free, or as downloads over the Internet. Still, that's another debate. To get back to Frankfurt.

Imagine an aircraft hangar. Now multiple that by eight and you have the size of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Yes, it makes you wonder if anyone actually lives in Frankfurt. Maybe they don't. Perhaps the city is populated by hotels, restaurants and other businesses supporting this gigantic exhibition centre. Though I am told it is also a financial hub of Germany.

It takes fifteen minutes walking at a good speed to get from Hall 8 to Hall 0 (the main entrance), that is unless you get stuck behind some slow moving snogging Italians. Why do they always look so relaxed? And why do they insist on blocking the escalator and using it as a place to make love?

After overcoming this obstacle, with something of a jealous twinge, you then need to navigate the hordes of Chinese and Indians pulling luggage trolleys, which takes some doing because often they decide to stop directly in front of you on the moving walkways. You can tell how successful your book fair has been probably by the number of bruises on your shins. Talking of which, on my second day in Germany I managed to fall onto the train and ended up on my hands and knees with a beautiful multi-coloured bruise on my leg. Thankfully, I was wearing boots for the whole book fair so it didn't show. And, no, I wasn't drunk, this was in the morning.

Drink! Yes, there are parties and boozy dinners, lots of them. I'm told that's where a lot of business is done, and though I was invited to two, I didn't get to them, firstly because I am not a great party animal and secondly because we were staying outside Frankfurt in a lovely place called Bad Nauheim. Here is a picture of the beautiful country park opposite our hotel, which I can thoroughly recommend; lovely manageress, friendly staff and scrumptious food.

Talking of food, I wonder if anyone has compiled statistics on the Frankfurt Book Fair, not the type they usually give out, like how many visitors it attracted and how many deals were done for how much money (Roger Moore's agent was touting around his biography for offers in excess of a million pounds. I kept hoping that Roger would show) but rather those other little known facts like how much coffee was consumed, which leads me nicely into toilet rolls and men?

It takes men about ten minutes to queue for the toilet at Frankfurt (or so I was told, but then we all know how much men like to exaggerate) and it takes women about three minutes to queue, another three to wash their hands, four to run their fingers through their hair, or re-arrange it, seven to replenish their make up and then another two to decide they hate the way they look and they've worn the wrong clothes anyway. Oh, unless they're Italian.

Which brings me neatly into toilet rolls. (Sorry, that's got no direct connection with Italians). According to the official web site over 280,000 people visited the Frankfurt Book Fair over five days, so let's say that's three sheets of toilet roll per person three times a day if male, seven times a day for a female, over five days... oh, work it out yourself I'm going to have some lunch.


Martin Edwards said…
I've never been to either Frankfurt, or the London Book Fair, but this account makes me think I ought to give it a try. Very interesting. Hope it leads to plenty more sales.
Pauline Rowson said…
Thanks, Martin. Not sure about it leading to more book sales, but you never know. Yes, come to the London Book Fair in April, I will be there along with my latest Marine Mystery Crime Novels and a glass or two of wine if you're lucky!

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