October 10, 2013, 5:45 a.m. I am heading towards Munich central station in order to catch a train to Frankfurt. The trip will take me around three and a half hours. Today I am visiting the Frankfurt Book Fair and as usual the train is packed with people – mainly people from publishing houses reading newspapers, books, some of them have kindles and others try to sleep a bit. What will this day have in store for me?
The STM publishers and information services providers are traditionally located in hall 4, which is one of the five big halls at Frankfurt Fair. In order to get there, I have to walk through hall 3, which is home to the main German fiction publishers. This hall is always crowded with people trying to get a glimpse of their favorite authors or having a first look into new books that are not yet publicly available. The magic of reading and enjoying complete new universes developed by others and finally brought on paper is most intense here and it always gives me a kick for the rest of the day, where topics are more about the challenges and changes that the whole industry is currently heavily struggling with.
First I visit the Wolters Kluwer booth. It has changed quite a bit. It is more open with lots of possibilities to sit together and talk and I do not see so many books presented anymore. I think both findings are reflecting the change we are in. I personally feel definitely more comfortable in this setting than in the previous one.
Then I have to hurry to attend a panel around “Agile Publishing”. This is a hot topic and so all seats in the audience are taken and a lively discussion comes up, mainly between me and Christian Kohl, who is responsible for Publishing Technology at de Gruyter in Berlin. Christian is addressing the aspect of heading towards mobility, whereas I am more focused on having the basics available for better personalization and individualization of products. Unfortunately, there is no time for lunch today, so I visit some service providers and partners at their booths, until I head for the hot spot area “Professional and Scientific Information”, where my presentation on Big Data and Semantic Search will take place. I am not sure, if the visitors here are ready for these topics, but I am positively surprised that the area is getting more and more crowded and quite a few people stand in the back and listen. I can spot some colleagues, some guys from the competition, but also many unknown faces. I hope that I made some of them aware of the importance of these topics and some really good personal discussions after the presentation support that hope.
Then I have to rush back to the train station.
At 8:30 p.m., I am back at home and it is cold and snowing outside. But I don’t care – it was a good day today!