Frankfurt Book Fair 2009 or China Book Fair 2009?

Is it my own perception or the reality that the Frankfurt Book Fair 2009 is in danger of being entirely consumed by the dissident voices of China? (not to mention the dissident voices of digitization and disinterest) There has been an undercurrent of criticism against the organisers of the Frankfurt Book Fair that they have somehow censored these dissident voices and produced a less than inspiring agenda. As an article in today’s Publishing Perspectives points out, there were four whole sessions for these dissident voices to express their opinions on the publishing industry in China and the plight of Chinese authors. It should also be noted that China was invited as the guest of honour at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.
From the Publishing Perspective article by Wen Huang and Edward Nawotka.

“When asked to comment on China being the Guest of Honor at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, Zhou said he doesn’t think the fair will be able to provide a forum of dialogues between the Chinese government and people with dissenting views. “The Chinese government uses the opportunity to show off its new wealth and has sent a group of writers that have been specially selected by the Party. These writers are here on a free trip paid by taxpayer’s money. They don’t want to communicate and they can’t,” he added.”
News from the Frankfurt Book Fair is somewhat subdued and matter-of-fact this year and I find myself scratching at the surface when it comes to posting on the event. For what it is worth, I would ask the more pertinent question that should be asked; is the Frankfurt Book Fair the right forum or place to address and change what is happening in China?

So far, O’Reilly TOC has proved to be the opening highlight and there seems the same air of uninspiring lethargy and perplexity from some of the publishing industry who have attended on the trade days. Something that was also very prevalent at the London Book Fair in July. Roll on the weekend when Frankfurt throws its doors open to the general public. That’ll shake ’em up!

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