The unifying power of literature
Dear friends of the book and publishing industry,
Contact restrictions, mandatory mask-wearing and travel warnings: until recently, such terms would have sounded more like something out of a dystopian novel than part of everyday life. But 2020 has shown us how quickly our lives can be radically altered by external forces. At times like this, more than ever, reading is food for the soul. Books enable us to meet people without having to follow social distancing rules, and to travel to faraway places with no quarantine period required.
To help protect literary and publishing diversity in Germany, the German government is making considerable funding available to the book and publishing industry through the coronavirus stimulus package NEUSTART KULTUR, as well as the annual support it provides in the form of various programmes and prizes. The German Booksellers Prize, for example, is awarded to bookshops that have done particularly valuable work in terms of promoting books as a cultural asset. The German Publishers Prize – another example – is awarded to smaller independent publishers who, by daring to take risks, help create a varied, rich and enriching literary landscape.
The Frankfurter Buchmesse is vital to the book and publishing industry as a venue for networking and trade, which is why the Book Fair’s foreign rights platform and its digital presence were allocated funding from the NEUSTART KULTUR programme last year. This government support will make it possible to lower participation fees for small exhibitors this year, in recognition of the contribution made by publishers who are doing good and important work outside of the mainstream. The corona crisis is forcing people all over the world to keep their distance from each other – which has made it all the more evident how much we need the unifying, border-crossing and barrierbreaking power of literature. This gives me confidence that the book and publishing industry, even in light of the challenges we are now facing, will endure in all its diversity. Let yourself be inspired by everything it has to offer!
Professor Monika Grütters,
Minister of State for Culture and the Media