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Leipzig Book Fair closes with record

29 March 2004

LEIPZIG – Once the showcase of Cold War Eastern European literature, the Leipzig Book Fair rebounded defied a book industry slump to close Sunday with a record turnout.

A record 102,000 persons attended the five-day event, organizers said Sunday, a reversal of fortunes immediately after German unification when analysts predicted the Leipzig fair would wither on the vine while the Frankfurt Book Fair in western Germany flourished.

“The record turnout has vindicated our continued efforts to show that Leipzig continues to be a vital showcase particularly for Central European literature,” fair official Oliver Zille told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

“Holding our fair in March positions us well for spring and summer releases by European publishers, just as Frankfurt’s date in the autumn positions it for the Christmas release dates,” he said.

Faced with record crowds, he said next year’s fair would take on additional space.

“We want visitors to have plenty of breathing room,” he said of the 2005 Leipzig Book Fair, set for next 17-20 March.

Even so, he said the smaller scale of the fair, compared with the giant Frankfurt fair, is a boon to visitors.

“One of our major advantages is that we are big enough to have it all and yet small enough that visitors can see it all,” Zille told dpa.

The fair closed Sunday with award of the Book Fair Prize to Bosnian author Dzevad Karahasan for his efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Europe.

Subject: German news