Why an Innovation Firm Goes to an Old-Fashioned Book Fair

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Beer swilling and book selling are the two most common reasons to go to Frankfurt in October. And good reasons both. But we’re headed there for another reason: business innovation. Here’s why.

Over the last few years, the Frankfurt Book Fair has undergone a steady transformation from a traditional and transactional rights fair to a gathering place for creators, technologists, and futurists. What began as an ad hoc response to opportunity and crisis grew into a kind of subterranean community.  But this year it’s a flashing neon sign.

That sign reads Frankfurt Buchmesse Business Club.

Led by a small but influential group of thought leaders and event programmers, the Fair has rapidly diversified its offerings to its prospective participants, and this year is the clearest indication yet that the Fair’s center of gravity is slowly shifting. In two weeks, when the 2014 Fair opens to its quarter of a million attendees, it will for the first time be welcoming a number of them through a different door: The Business Club, an umbrella for three discrete conferences: Contec, Storydrive, and the International Rights Directors Meeting. Separately ticketed, expertly curated, and positioned to face a different kind of Fairgoer: one focused less on transactional exchanges and more on the trafficking of information and ideas. Curiosity over commodity.

Frankfurt Buchmesse 2014

Infographic by Jesica Kim (thefrontierproject.com)


And that’s why we’re going. As an innovation firm with global clients, we’re targeting Frankfurt as the magnet attracting talent from across the world, creating new solutions and opening new markets for packaged content both inside and outside the traditional publishing arena.

At Contec, we’re doing a panel on the future of marketing books to consumers across a fragmented and highly personalized mediascape. We’re sitting down with technologists building compelling new tools for design of digital stories. We’re paying particular attention to a couple of companies constructing bridges between print and digital products. And we’re taking the time to unpack a few case studies of micropublishing programs—communities publishing to and for themselves.

At Storydrive, we’re listening to the master storytellers of our time, tapping their expertise in narrative design, and looking for ways to put their strategies to good use in our client work. From global hotel chains to massive CPG companies to gutsy non-profits, we’re seeing the interest in packaged stories explode. To tell those stories well, we want the best story-wired brains helping us deliver.

And at International Right Directors Meeting, we’re soaking up all we can about the exploding Spanish Language markets – from Mexico to Argentina to the Iberian Peninsula. Tracking these consumer markets is vital to global enterprises looking to tell their story in evolving media environments.

So if you’re planning to attend, look for us amidst the literature and lederhosen. We’ll be talking with the Futuristen, exploring what’s coming next.

Expert Publishing Blog
Jason Allen Ashlock

About Jason Allen Ashlock

For the past five years Jason Allen Ashlock has been founding and leading companies in content design and author management, building projects for sports legends, award-winning actors and journalists, ground-breaking thought leaders, and Edgar, LAMBDA, and Pushcart finalist novelists. Currently, he manage ambitious and innovative book packaging initiatives for media companies, entrepreneurial authors and brands, start-ups, and organizations of all kinds under the banner of The Frontier Project. He teaches Digital Publishing at the City University of New York, City College, and speaks frequently around the country on matters within publishing, technology, and author management.


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