Why Bookfest Digital is better than the real book fair

Moderator Tarik Tesfu presented a few hours of the trade fair program.
Image: Screenshot Bookfest

The best public day is one without an audience: ten reasons why Bookfest Digital on two YouTube channels is far superior to a real Saturday at the book fair.

ATwenty-eight hours of interviews, portraits, discussions and show cooking on two channels, with unusually fast timing: the organizers opted for this alternative to the public Saturday full of events at the fair. “We can’t hold a water glass reading for an hour,” said project manager Petra Kappler firmly. So there is at Bookfest Digital, which lasts until midnight, shorter posts that alternated between popular and ambitious. Why can’t that be the case every year? There are many good reasons for this.


  1. The audience sits at home. This means that the extensive program is now also available to those who are far away or who cannot afford a hotel at fair prices. In the chat next to the stream, strangers wishing each other good morning and greetings from Alaska, Miami, Malaysia and Hungary.
  2. The audience sits at home. And that has a second big advantage: everyone who would otherwise have clogged the aisles between the stands, with whom one would have stood in front of the escalators and competed for a sunny spot in the courtyard, is simply not there. Instead, you can enjoy the wonderful tranquility in your own four walls at the same time as the Bookfest.
  3. The authors are also at home. That’s why we not only get a glimpse of their living room during the live interviews, but also beautifully prepared articles like the one about Axel Scheffler: The creator of the Gruffalo sits down on his Persian carpet and shows his sketchbook, and we also accompany him in his favorite bookstore. An interview at the fair can never offer that.
  4. The short form is ideal. The readings at the fair have never been a place of concentration and love for literature – someone was always making a loud phone call in the background or a celebrity was being escorted past. If ten minutes of reading isn’t enough to spark interest in a book, half an hour is probably not enough either.
  5. It’s all about variety. If you think that the interview with Elizabeth Gilbert (“Eat Pray Love”) turned out to be a bit long and streamlined, the next few poetic encounters with Canadian and Norwegian authors who recite and tell poems in English and Sami and make experimental music . Largely contextless. Just because. You can trust the audience to do something. Especially since the artists wouldn’t even notice with this form if there were only four spectators left.
  6. It’s finally tidied up here. Usually there are at least two events at the fair that you want to attend at the same time, and then again for three hours there are none. Bookfest Digital has clustered according to topic, which means that in the mornings you can sit a child in front of Kanal 1, where Katja Brandis reads from “Seawalkers”, and in the afternoons you can learn a lot about Asia on Kanal 2, for example about science fiction from China.
  7. You don’t have to do without anything. Anyone who thought that a program shrunk to two channels and one day really only offered space for the exceptional was mistaken: of course, the inevitable Daniela Katzenberger will be cooking again this year. But only for two minutes, which is completely sufficient.
  8. It goes back and forth. If you feel bored of a post, you can watch what’s going on on the other channel without even putting your feet on the floor, let alone dragging yourself to another hall. And when it’s boring next door, you switch back again. This combines the greatest advantages of the book fair and television in an extremely convenient way.
  9. The fair makes money. Okay, at least a little. In any case, there is advertising between the posts, and one must very much hope that Weight Watchers paid stupidly for Ross Antony to bake a low-calorie cake for minutes with loud enthusiasm, while the company logo is displayed in the lower right corner. Whether the whole matter is overly lucrative on balance remains questionable.
  10. There are moderators. What for? We would have asked ourselves that just a few weeks ago, but only their presence shows what an important function a friendly face and a few introductory words fulfill in a varied program. The moderators, including the extremely authentically good-humored Tarik Tesfu, also do interviews themselves and give the whole thing a personal touch. The audience no longer has to find their way around, they are taken by the hand and shown around. If the trade fair does not continue this concept, at least in addition, it is really missing out on something.


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