It’s almost here, the publishing industry’s annual literary Oktoberfest: the Frankfurt Book Fair. This year’s edition officially kicks off on October 10, with more than 150,000 professional visitors representing some 7,500 companies and 110 countries expected to gather to trade rights, network, and participate in an energetic, forward-looking professional program. And despite difficulties both within the industry and from a lingering global fiscal crisis, the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair is poised to have one of its best turnouts in years.

Leading that growth is the fair’s strength—the rights trade. Earlier this month, Frankfurt officials reported that 311 agencies from 32 countries have booked tables in the Literary Agents & Scouts Center (LitAg), an increase of more than 4% over 2011, including 30 agencies coming to Frankfurt for the first time.

In other signs of growth, this year’s Frankfurt Fellows program saw a record number of applications, and for the first time, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses will be hosting a collective stand. The booming business of children’s publishing will also be a major focus at this year’s fair, with a children’s publishing seminar, and for the first time, a lounge dedicated to children’s publishing, sponsored by Ikea. This year’s guest of honor, New Zealand, is also posting a strong showing. As of this month, 76 books from New Zealand writers have been translated into German this year, the most ever for a guest of honor.

On the professional side, the Frankfurt Book Fair team’s investment in creating the Frankfurt Academy is once again yielding a vibrant program designed to foster innovation, communication, and new business opportunities among attendees. Whether licensing and rights issues, technical problems like HTML5 or EPub3, or new devices, trends, or other developments, there is sure to be a stage, lounge, seminar, or panel devoted to it. Among the 2012 highlights, Friday, October 12, will be Licensing Day and will feature a daylong slate of programming.

Preceding the fair, on October 9, is the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference, now in its fourth year. Once again, the ToC staff has put together an outstanding program, featuring a full day of cutting-edge keynotes and panel discussions by key figures in the worlds of publishing and technology.

The StoryDrive conference is back in expanded form. Billed as the place “where X-Men, Hobbits, Angry Birds, philosophers, authors, and publishing managers find common ground,” this year’s StoryDrive conference will feature a new program, called Mission Statements, offering 30-minute talks with leading minds of the publishing, film, and gaming industries.

Throughout the fair, exhibit halls will be again dotted with HotSpots, exhibition areas for innovative products and services. And the Frankfurt Sparks presentations will also return with an expanded slate—short, vibrant conversations with industry leaders on digital issues that take place in small theaters right on the show floor. The Sparks presentations have proven to be a major draw—they are convenient, keep people in the exhibit hall, and feature an impressive lineup of top players from across the industry, in casual conversation about often serious issues—all in 30 Twitter-worthy minutes.

Then there’s the fair’s regularly scheduled programming, featuring sessions on everything from metadata to merchandising—and of course, e-books. Speaking of e-books, this year’s fair offers something else new: a series of free e-books on a range of topics facing the industry.

For more information and to help you plan for the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair, visit the Frankfurt Web site at And look for PW’s ongoing coverage of the fair in our show dailies and online at, inlcluding this year's Frankfurt briefcase.