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The Frankfurt book fair discusses digital books

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Every year, the world biggest book fair in Frankfurt attracts a lot of bookworms. But the future of the traditional paperback is unsure

With 280,000 visitors expected, Frankfurt will be overwhelmed with bookworms, sharp-toothed agents and bespectacled intellectuals for the next few days. Every year they flock to attend the legendary book fair from 4 to 8 October 2006. The scale of the event is indeed impressive. The fair boasts 13 hall levels amounting to 172,000 square meters of exhibition space and more than 7,000 exhibitors from around the world. Visitors will happily flick through some 380,000 books and products showed.

This year a controversial question will dominate discussions among edition professionals. Will books still be printed in the future? Will the old paperback be left to mould on the shelf? Indeed the recently appointed director of the fair, Juergen Boos, underlines that they will focus on the digitisation of the book and media industry. A Digital market place has been organised so that software and multimedia business, professionals and publishers have the chance to meet.

Less controversial, the 2006 edition will also focus on the theme of ‘Education for the Future’. Some 2,500 education-related events have been organised. Interested visitors can attend workshops and conferences, a Teachers’ Congress and learn about LitCam, the campaign against illiteracy .

India will be this year’s guest of honour. With 80,000 books published yearly, the Asian giant will be represented by more than 150 publishing companies and 40 authors. This is a sign that professionals are increasingly aware of the growing importance of the Asian market.

Wandering tourists and visitors might also spot a few celebs weaving their way through the crowds. Film director, Luc Besson, and writers such as Ken Follett, Gunter Grass, Zadie Smith have confirmed their presence.