Considering the Role of International Fairs on the Globalization of Publishing

The Example of the Quebecois Publishers at the Frankfurt Buchmesse
By Hervé Serry, Josée Vincent

International book fairs have become decisive places for the structuring of book markets within the globalized dynamics of publishing markets since the 1950s. Book fairs have organized more than just property rights exchanges since the Frankfurt Buchmesse renaissance that emerged after the Second World War. Starting from this German epicenter, trading standards, professional models, economic rules, normative exchange behaviors, and aesthetic and cognitive forms spread. A book festival anchors markets and national players in a hierarchical and restrictive position. Based on the case of Quebecois investments in Frankfurt, this article seeks to analyze how the local and global dimensions are structured, and how a dominated player—that is, peripheral from the point of view of language and production reputation—is able to exist on the world book market. This study is based on studies of several archive collections of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec as well as the analysis of the professional review Vient de Paraître, published by the Conseil supérieur du livre from 1965 to 1978. We aim to stress that, more than the recognition of a literature or culture considered marginal, the presence of Quebecois publishers in Frankfurt also marks a desire to project the image of a nation in formation. Finally, there is the question of the diffusion of professional models and their forms of integration through the hierarchical spaces that book fairs such as Frankfurt’s represent, and therefore the streamlining of publishing practices.

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