Current political debates will once again impact on the Leipzig Book Fair. The public need to talk about the future of society and the future has never been so great as this year, according to the director of the Book Fair Oliver Zille, speaking in Leipzig. He pointed to issues such as the Ukraine conflict, populism in Saxony, Germany and Europe and the threats to freedom of expression in Turkey. But this year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation will also play a leading role in Leipzig.
The Leipzig Book Fair, which this year takes place between 23 and 26 March, is the most important spring meeting of the book and media sector and is aimed at readers, authors and publishers. Overall, the organisers are expecting 260,000 visitors, including 195,000 at the Leipzig Exhibition Centre. The Leipzig Book Fair, with its reading festival “Leipzig Reads” will feature 3,300 participants at 3,400 events on 411 stages in the city of Leipzig, 160 of them at the Exhibition Centre itself, where 2,400 exhibitors will be represented, says Zille.
No topic as strong as Luther and the Reformation
Zille notes, “There’s plenty of Luther at the Fair”. The Reformation 500 ago was “a revolution in human thought”. Hence the Book Fair will be looking both back and forwards. Renate Nolte of the Vereinigung Evangelischer Buchhändler und Verleger (Union of Evangelical Booksellers and Publishers) sees a certain dominance of works on Luther at this year’s Book Fair. “There certainly isn’t a subject with as much coverage this year,” the managing director told the Evangelischer Pressedienst (epd – Evangelical News Agency). The literature on the jubilee year and the reformer includes all genres. Along with specialist theological works there are books for children, audiobooks, literary fiction and graphic novels. There are also academic publications on the subject, added Nolte.
Many publications get to grips with “the entire age of the Reformation”, Nolte notes. Along with Luther, the reformer Thomas Müntzer (1489–1525) and Luther’s wife Katharina von Bora (1499–1552) are well-represented. Another prominent publication at the Trade Fair is the Luther Bible. “It’s also part of the concept ‘Reformation 2017’,” explained Nolte. She anticipates that the Book Fair will provide a general impulse for the jubilee year. Although publishers and bookshops are beginning to get the impression that there is enough literature on Luther, “I think the Germans haven’t extensively recognised the anniversary in all areas,” she explains.