10/15/2012 09:00 am ET Updated Dec 13, 2012

Frankfurt Book Fair 2012: What I Learned

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world's biggest trade fair for the book industry. This year, there were more than 7,000 professional stands at last week's fair, showing off their latest titles and technology to distributors, literary agents, printers, media and publishers in a wide variety of languages. Around 300,000 people attended during its five days.

Talking to people, I found that the general mood seemed fairly optimistic, especially following a couple of economically depressed years where doom and gloom were more prevalent. Publishing hasn't disappeared, Amazon hasn't destroyed the industry (though their name is still whispered in a tone not dissimilar to that of Voldemort's.)

Though Frankfurt's reputation is as a place for big deals, most of the deals were actually done in the build up to the fair, turning the event into more a series of announcements, plus a few smaller territories getting a greater level of attention than in previous years.

Also, print isn't dead. In America, it's easy to think that print is on its way out, but currently Germany has very low ebook penetration - between 3 and 10%, while in Italy, it's less than 2%. Though ereaders will certainly move into these markets, it might take several years for them to take hold.

That said, ebooks are now very much part of the conversation, rather than a bizarre friend of a friend that publishers pretend they don't know when they see them. This is a good thing.

This was my first year at Frankfurt, and I went courtesy of the Book Fair itself in order to speak at the StoryDrive conference, a side event dedicated to crossmedia creations.

I spent four days walking around the vast halls, and here's what I learned:

Highlights from the Frankfurt Book Fair

All photos are by me unless otherwise marked.