Vast is too small a word to describe the Frankfurt Book Fair. Spread over several buildings – each the size of a normal convention center – one can find everything related to publishing in the world. It’s literally literature.
We attended this year because education publishing, a business with deep local ties based on culture and economics, is globalizing along with everything else.
In my consulting practice prior to PCI half my clients were international companies, not traditional US based publishers. This was my first clue.
My second clue was that some of the people I respect the most in the supplemental materials market have been attending Frankfurt for 15-20 years. Their companies do healthy international business that contributes significantly to the bottom line. Teacher Created Materials, Evan-Moore, Benchmark, and others surf international opportunities in the American Collective.
As one of them pointed out to me – if you have a meeting that goes bust you just move on to the next one 10 minutes later. It isn’t like you flew to the country and spent 2-3 days on a single meeting. In 2-3 days at Frankfurt you can expect to have 20+ meetings.
PCI’s focus on students with special needs means our market is relatively narrow compared to some of the other publishers. Even so, it was an incredibly productive few days – I met with publishers and distributors from almost every continent.
If you are considering moving into this arena the advice I’ve gotten is to make a 2-3 year commitment to building momentum.
To jump start your efforts AEP (The Association of Education Publishers) in partnership with the Book Fair sponsors the Educational Publishing Pavilion (EPP). They book the hotel, handle set up, and get you a small stand in among other education companies. They also work hand-in-glove with the US Commercial Service (a division of the Department of Commerce) to book appointments with prospective partners and to provide staff to tend your booth when you are away for appointments (thanks USCS team!).
I recommend the Buchmesse highly if you are thinking about expanding internationally. We have been able to make connections that should bear fruit over the next several years.
Disclosure – I am on the Board of AEP.
Facebook Photo Album including shots of Bill Evans, Rachelle Cracchiolo, Tom Reycraft, Peter Schneider, Jo-Ann McDevitt, and David Beacom.
AEP Video Link