Starring role for NZ at giant book fair

After the massive upheaval of the Christchurch earthquake and the financial scars left by Whitcoulls' foray into voluntary administration, New Zealand publishers are hoping for a much better year next year.

And they already have at least one highlight to look forward to: our Guest of Honour status at the world's biggest book fair.

It's a much bigger deal than it sounds.

Each year, a different country is selected to be the focus of the five-day Frankfurt Book Fair. But it is not just the fair itself which gives New Zealand an opportunity to take centre-stage - we are also expected to develop a year-long programme of events throughout Germany leading up to the fair in October 2012.

An advisory group headed by former Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung, and including advertising executive Peter Biggs, publisher Kevin Chapman, former Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast, VUW Press chairman Neil Quigley, Maori Television executive Carol Hirschfeld, trade consultant Stephen Diver and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade CEO John Allen, will oversee the project.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage chief executive Lewis Holden notes that last year's guest of honour, Argentina, appeared in more than 5000 articles in the international press as a result of the fair.

"The exposure that our creative industries, culture and people will receive at the Frankfurt Book Fair is extraordinary - on a world-wide scale," he says. "It's an unparalleled opportunity to showcase New Zealand in all its dimensions, from art, books, music, to our fashion and our growing multimedia and technology industries."

Gattung notes that Germany is the world's fourth-largest economy, and that German tourists are among the biggest spenders here. "Alongside our cultural offerings, the exposure at Frankfurt offers New Zealand huge potential to build stronger connections in education, food and wine and the broader IT sector as well as in publishing," she says.

Nearly 300,000 people usually attend the fair - which not only promotes books, but also international film rights and digital content such as games - from more than 110 countries.

- NZ Herald

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