Rolling out of bed at 3.30am to catch a flight is never an easy task, but with the lure of spending the day surrounded by books in all shapes and sizes at Frankfurt Book Fair, the 6am flight was surprisingly painless.
Upon entering the fair I was astounded at the scale. Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest book fair but the reality of what that actually means doesn’t hit you until you get your map and enter the first hall, in which rows upon rows of stalls are set up with people from all over the world showing off their books and wares. Zoom out slightly and there’s six of these halls with multiple floors. It’s huge.
As we roamed the halls we got chatting to Katie de Clercq from Lawrence King, publishers of Yasmeen Ismail, Marion Deuchars and many other wonderful artists. They have such a great selection of books and print products all with an artist-led and often quirky vibe. Totally up our street.
Mid-morning had us heading over for a meeting at the Independent Publishers Guild with Lynette Owen, author of the Publishing Rights bible Selling Rights. We are very much at the beginning of our commercial publishing journey and Lynette was exceptionally helpful and full of excellent advice about rights.
On the same floor we found the Irish publishers stand and took the opportunity to speak to Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin and discuss translations of our Discovery Diaries into the Gaelic language for bilingual schools through the country. It was very interesting to learn that only a handful of schools in Ireland are teaching a full curriculum in the native language and if we were to do translations of the Diaries it would be more viable to get funding from an organisation who supports it – anyone out there interested in partnering?? While we didn’t find a Welsh publishers stand, we do know that Government funding exists for the translation of education resources into Welsh and we’d LOVE to do this for our Welsh schools.
Just before lunch we headed down to Hall 6 to have a meeting with the wonderful Nicky Dee who was very excited to show us her latest project: these incredible mountable cardboard dinosaur heads! The models were designed by a paper engineer (that’s a real job title!), and the packaging by me, and they now form part of Nicky’s Special Dinosaurs collection of books and products. Curved House Kids did the artworking and layout for four of these books and we are chuffed to have played a small role in the series. The dinosaur heads are 100% recyclable and we were so impressed to see how sturdy and detailed they are!
Justine Solomons of Byte the Book and Andreas Trefzger of Wolf Präsente joined us outside for lunch where we enjoyed the warm Autumn sun and caught up on what everyone had been doing while at the fair. Justine was fresh from chairing a panel on censorship and morality that you can read about here. And Andi was taking a break from manning his stand: CreaBrulee, connoisseurs of magical washi tape!
The afternoon was spent looking for printers for our forthcoming books and snaps cards and we also managed to get some time in checking out new titles from some of our favourite publishers. The art book section was particularly inspiring. Like magpies to shiny objects were drawn to many beautiful cover designs and great ideas. We poured over Gibbs Smith’s extensive collection of BabyLit classics for kids, delighted at V&A’s introduction to Frida Kahlo which gives children a way into exploring and getting more from their recent Kahlo exhibition, then we learnt a huge amount thanks to Sourcebooks Baby University series which ranges from General Relativity and Statistical Physics all the way to Rocket Science and Quantum Physics.
And then just like that, we were back in Berlin.
Curved House Kids live an ecclectic life: we work mainly from an office in Berlin, with UK schools and organisations, combining the arts, education, literacy, STEM and book publishing. Going to Frankfurt Book Fair gave us the opportunity to reconnect and re-engage with just the books part of all of this and it felt a little like going home for Christmas. We are energised for growing our lovely little list in 2019. Watch this space!