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Frankfurt Book Fair 2015: A Recap

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IPG: Independent Publishers Group at Frankfurt Book Fair 2015Stepping off the plane this year, we were shocked by the frigid temperatures and gloomy skies of Frankfurt. The sun didn’t appear for the entire week of the show. There were, however, plenty of bright moments as we met with our international clients and a few fantastic prospects.

Traffic was robust through our new home in Hall 6 (traditionally the English-speaking Hall was Hall 8). We were able to acquire space on the ground floor, allowing us to avoid the traffic jams at the enormous escalators that traverse the four story building. While the fair was two buildings smaller this year (six enormous buildings instead of last year’s eight), the effect was a vibrant setting with lots of buzz.

So how to summarize the experience of our four-person team who handled more than 150 appointments in four days? International publishing is going strong. Stability within digital publishing coupled with improved global economic conditions are allowing new entrants into the publishing community. However, while the US market is still incredibly desirable to all publishers, the “Americanization” of titles, supply chain hurdles, a market dominated by major players, and price sensitivity of US customers can make the move intimidating for foreign presses. Many international publishers have tried it only to back-out with a bad taste in their mouths.

IPG is hands-down the leader in solving these problems. This assessment played out again and again at the show. No other distributor can fill a weekly ocean container out of London to the US, along with bi-monthly containers from Barcelona, monthly from Australia, and every six weeks from New Zealand. IPG now also offers consolidated shipping from Asia where many of our clients’ books are printed. The savings achieved by the sheer scale of our freight lanes hugely absorbs our distribution fees and widens the margins for our international partners.

Frankfurt 2015 Joe- cropped My favorite moment of the show was in a prospect meeting when our client Michael Neugebauer of minedition, an excellent German publisher who had trouble opening the US in the past, said: “I could never make the US market work… until I started with IPG. Now I’m profitable in the US, and the US dollars really helped me survive cash-flow issues as world currencies devalued this year.”

Having our foreign publishers advocate on our behalf is incredibly validating. It certainly helps us sleep at night–despite the jet-lag.

-Joe Matthews, COO

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