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This report is taken from PN Review 30, Volume 9 Number 4, March - April 1983.

The Frankfurt Book Fair Michael Hulse

One of the little ironies at Frankfurt this year was an art book published by Goldmann with the title Kunst im Kanzleramt. The volume was timed to coincide with the Book Fair, and Helmut Schmidt would be on hand to say a few words himself about his favourites: Barlach and Kirchner, Macke and Emil Nolde. But as things turned out, when Herr Schmidt made his speech to open this thirty-fourth annual fair on the evening of 5 October, events had overtaken his title: the other Helmut, the one whose surname means cabbage, had already rehung the paintings and drawings in the chancellor's offices to suit his own taste.

As it was, ex-chancellor Schmidt focussed in his speech on three main points. The book trade, he urged, should play its part in keeping as many jobs as possible open; press monopolies (he specifically mentioned the Axel Springer Verlag) should be guarded carefully against; and, above all, the replacement of the printed word by electronic media should be held in check wherever feasible. This last Gutenberg galaxy fear is of course widely shared; and it was all the more surprising, therefore, to find publishers by no means as set in a siege mentality as the pundits might have us expect. The mood at Frankfurt this year, while not optimistic, was by no means pessimistic either.

This neutrality of temper was something I had some difficulty in explaining. The Book Fair of course produces the familiar best-ever statistics: ...


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