Leipzig.

The doubts were there all the time, but in the end it was still a surprise: The Leipzig Book Fair was also canceled for 2022.

With a heavy heart, the fair announced on Wednesday that there would be no book festival in March. Too many exhibitors would have given up participating in Leipzig in the uncertain pandemic situation. This is the third cancellation of Germany’s second largest book fair since the start of the pandemic. Reactions ranged from regret to the attitude that a large show wouldn’t have been justifiable at the moment anyway.

75% of exhibitors accepted

According to industry reports, there had been a flurry of cancellations in recent days, particularly from major publishing groups such as Penguin Random House and Oetinger. However, there were also explicit commitments to the show, such as that of the Kurt Wolff Foundation, which represents the interests of independent publishers. “The Leipzig Book Fair is of vital importance for the diverse German book and publishing world,” the foundation stressed the day before the cancellation.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, the Leipzig Fair had decided to schedule the book fair on its traditional March date. Director Oliver Zille justified this by saying that 75% of pre-crisis exhibitors had confirmed their participation in 2022. “The industry gave us clear signals to make the show possible with all our might – we fought until ‘at the end for it to stand,” Zille explained on Wednesday. There have been positive signals for the fair from the state government of Saxony, which is responsible for the Corona rules.

The German book trade association called the further cancellation a blow to the industry. “The fair would have been very important for the book and for all those who live for it and from it,” explained director Karin Schmidt-Friderichs. She thanked all the editors who had come despite the pandemic – and at the same time expressed her understanding for all those who had decided not to. She didn’t want to see “just tiredness” in him. They acted out of a sense of responsibility.

No digital replacement program

Nevertheless, it remains a fact that the book industry must and will do without the Leipzig Book Fair for the third time in a row. In 2020 it was one of the first major trade fairs in Germany to be canceled at short notice, and in 2021 a postponement of the date to warmer May did not save it. The Frankfurt Book Fair was limited to a digital edition in 2020 and was held in a reduced format in autumn 2021 with only around 70,000 visitors instead of more than 300,000 as before the crisis.

The organizers of the Leipzig show are now looking ahead to next year. There will be no digital replacement program this time, the “Leipzig Reads” reading festival was canceled together with the fair. The next book festival in Leipzig is scheduled for March 23-26, 2023. (dpa)