Well, first about the fair. It's the largest book fair in the world and is the place for all industry players to be there – from publishers, printers, agents and distributors. And though I've been in the publishing industry for 4 years now, it's only my first time going to the fair (despite being a few years late, that to me is already an achievement – it's my first time out of Asia & first time going for such an international fair).
Going to the fair was a big eye opener. Like I said, it was the place for all to be. It was huge – having 6 halls, many of which covers a few levels each.
More importantly, I get to see the global way of the business. There, I get a chance to meet all the other foreign publishers – mainly from the close to heart Asia (though South East Asia is quite clearly unrepresented), Europe (from the more common countries to even smaller Eastern Europe countries), South America, and of course the cannot-miss UK & USA publishers.
Seeing the European & South American publishers (and even publishers from the Middle East/ Central Asia) exposed me that the world is not that small after all. And that there is more than the usual markets we always focus on (or at least the usual 1st world countries I only know in my fingertips).
The second thing that inspired me in the Frankfurt Book Fair is how some companies can focus on just 1 book, participate in the fair with it, and most likely will be a international hit. It dawns on me on what I've done before – participating in fairs with just my first book (Batik Inspirations).
However, the road of fairs is a tiring one – and not to mention an expensive one. Well the prices for the ones I've participated is no where compared to this book fair, but still it is a cost that may not generate enough returns. That plus the effort of carrying the bulky boxes of books & preparation in advance & packing up later all makes the effort of having a booth in a fair not so worthwhile at times. That is one reason why I ruled out participating in any fairs for the 2nd book (50+1 Malaysia).
At the fair, I also understand that international publishers plan way in advance for the books. For example, I've seen some publishers announcing their 2010 & 2011 titles. One publishing company has also focused on that 1 book of theirs since 2 years back – and it's not just 1 book, but instead a full campaign with it.
Having being 'blown away' with such relevations only get me thinking of my conversation with the acquaintance at the fair. The conversation revolved mainly on he telling me about one continuing to publish good books and keep believing that it will eventually bring the returns – if not immediate, but in the future.
And there I was telling him, that while I agree on that, but there are a few things that make one (especially local publishers on local content) to consider otherwise – first there is the high publishing costs involved and secondly, it's hard to get our local content books out in the market... I added that it's easier to get overseas content into the country than otherwise.
But he kept persisting on his belief. And while I know myself as the dreamer and always believing in one having big dreams that come true, I do also believe that we may need to tweak our strategies at times to suite the market demands to achieve our dreams. Hence, I told the acquaintance that I agree with him – but only if our local publishers have a more international content or at least a mixture of local & international, can we go global (and with that I mean is that having our books converted to different languages and selling a few million copies).
As strong a point I have (or so I would like to think), however, the acquaintance didn't buy it.
After the conversation, it just got me thinking... has the 4 years in the media industry changed my mindset somewhat? And should people stick to their route planned for their dream? And really, who is the Dreamer (in good sense) here? :)