The Frankfurter Buchmesse and Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, in the presence of the Spanish Publishers Association, have signed a joint memorandum of understanding to prepare for Spain’s participation as Guest of Honour at the Frankurter Buchmesse (20-24 October 2021). This means Spain will be Guest of Honour in Frankfurt exactly 30 years since it was last present in this role. Spain’s most widely read and important contemporary authors include Fernando Aramburu, Dolores Redondo, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Javier Marías, Almudena Grandes and Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Some 500 million people speak Spanish, making it one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

The partners describe Spain’s appearance as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse as an excellent opportunity to showcase the developments and trends in Spanish culture in recent decades and to present Spanish literature and authors to an international audience. Another goal of Spain’s participation is to create an international network for the Spanish creative and cultural industries.

“Spain – like many other European countries – is experiencing very turbulent times, revealing political tensions and a divergence of viewpoints”, said Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurter Buchmesse, at the memorandum’s signing. “Cultural workers and writers face the particular challenge of not only illuminating and documenting these times, but also of reinterpreting them constructively and of building bridges.”

The Frankfurter Buchmesse is the most important book and media fair in the world. Every year, some 286,000 visitors from 125 countries participate in the fair, including approximately 170,000 trade visitors. Every October, some 10,000 accredited journalists and bloggers from 75 countries report live on the 4,000 events and activities that take place during the fair.

The Spanish Publishers Association and Ministry of Culture wish to use the worldwide reach of the Frankfurter Buchmesse in 2021 to convey new insights into Spain’s cultural landscape and its most important subsectors. The aim is to focus on the diversity and innovation of the cultural and creative industries. In addition to the traditional book sector, participants from other sectors – the visual arts, film, television, radio, music, games, gastronomy, etc. – are also planning to participate.

Spain’s appearance as Guest of Honour ties in with the programme to promote reading 2017-2020, which was adopted by the Secretaría de Estado de Cultura on 3 May 2017 with the slogan “Leer te da vidas extra” (“Reading gives you extra lives”), and the “Culture Programme 2020”, whose main objective is to disseminate Spanish culture internationally.

Since Spain last participated as Guest of Honour in 1991, the Spanish book industry has undergone an unparalleled transformation, marked by new cultural diversity. With an average of 80,000 new publications per year, Spain is also one of the countries that produces the most books in the world.

The book industry is one of the most important economic drivers within Spain’s cultural sector. According to the “Yearbook of Cultural Statistics 2016”, published by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, in 2014 the book and newspaper industry contributed 0.9 per cent to the total gross domestic product and 34.1 per cent to the total gross domestic product of the cultural industry. That makes publishing Spain’s most important cultural industry – and a powerful engine for creating jobs: In 2015, the sector employed 515,000 people, with 49,500 (9.6 per cent) working for the publishing industry (books, newspapers and other).