A new white paper by the Global eBook report brings insights on the recent development in several digital book markets across continental Europe.

Share of € revenue in selected price segments in ebooks from publishers in Germany, Italy and Spain, and from indie authors in Germany, 1HY2016 Topics include:

Share of € revenue in selected price segments in ebooks from publishers in Germany, Italy and Spain, and from indie authors in Germany, 1HY2016
Topics include:

Topics include:

·                   How does price impact on digital sales?

·                   How does the balance between volume and value work out in different markets?

·                   How do digital exports compare for France, Germany, Spain, or the Netherlands?

The study is based on new original data from leading ebook aggregators and distributors Bookwire, eDigita, Ingram and Readbox.


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The Thursday CEO Talk at the Frankfurt Book Fair will focus on two European editorial power houses that each stand for key strategies in the current transformation of the international business of books. Rizzoli Libri is the new brand created by Mondadori as the home of their recently acquired RCS Libri, making the Milan based group the by far predominant publishing enterprise in the Italian language. Média-Participations is the largest publisher of comic books in Europe with ca. 1000 new titles per year (of which 600 are “bandes dessinées”, or comics) and sales of ca. 25 million volumes (of which 15 million comic books) per year, plus a leader in the exploitation of cross-media rights.

The debate will be presented by Livres Hebdo (France), with Bookdao (China), The Bookseller (United Kingdom), buchreport (Germany), PublishNews (Brazil), Publishers Weekly (USA), and the Frankfurt Book Fair Business Club. Moderated by Rüdiger Wischenbart, the discussion will feature the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2016.

Thursday, October 19, 2015, from 14:00 to 15:00

Frankfurt Book Fair, Hall 4.2, Room Dimension, Frankfurt Book Fair Business Club.

Massimo Turchetta is Director of Rizzoli Libri Trade within the Mondadori Publishing Group. Through his career in the book trade he has been working in all areas of the market: from traditional trade books to university textbooks, to illustrated titles, to partworks and fiction magazines. He has been i. a. editorial director of the Mondadori paperback division Oscar, publisher of the Mondadori fiction magazines, editorial director at Grjalbo, editorial director at Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore, general manager at Mondadori Libri and general manager at RCS Libri Trade.

Claude de Saint Vincent, CEO at Média-Participations, made his reputation as « the man who helped comics to get out of their cage” (Le Monde), by widening the scope of publishing the “7th art” beyond books, to games, online distribution (with the specialized platform Iznéo), and audiovisual productions. At annual revenues of € 340 million, and a staff of 1100, the group is the leading European player in one of the most dynamic segments of publishing in Europe.

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A debate on strategic developments in international publishing – including notably consolidation, digital transformation, and globalization -, presented by Livres Hebdo (France), with Bookdao (China), The Bookseller (United Kingdom), buchreport (Germany), PublishNews (Brazil), Publishers Weekly (USA), and the Frankfurt Book Fair Business Club, featuring the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2015.

Wednesday October 19, 2015, from 14:00 to 15:00

Frankfurt Book Fair, Hall 4.2, Room Dimension, Frankfurt Book Fair Business Club.

Jacob Dalborg, Chief Executive Officer of Bonnier Books, will be the sole speaker at the Wednesday edition of this year’s Frankfurt CEO Talk. The discussion will focus on Bonnier Books ambitions of being one of Europe’s leading book publishing groups, in the areas where Bonnier Books act.

Dalborg will be interviewed for 60 minutes by the editors of Livres Hebdo, Bookdao, The Bookseller, buchreport, PublishNews Brazil and Publishers Weekly, in the context of the 2016 Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry, in cooperation with the Frankfurt Book Fair Business Club. The event will be moderated by Rüdiger Wischenbart.

Topics of the interviews will include Bonnier Book’s predominant market position in Sweden and most of Scandinavia, its international holdings, particularly in Germany and the United Kingdom, the impact of digital in these highly diverse market environments, as well as Bonnier Book’s overall strategy.

Jacob Dalborg has previously worked in corporate finance at KPMG in Stockholm and London, but he has been with Bonnier since 2002, and has among other things been the CEO of Albert Bonniers Förlag and CEO of Bonnierförlagen.

Jacob Dalborg is CEO of Bonnier Books and accordingly he is board chair of all of the companies within Bonnier Books; Adlibris Group, Bonnierförlagen AB, Pocketshop, Bonnier Media GmbH, Bonnier Publishing UK, Bonnier Books Finland and Cappelen Damm.  He is also a member of the board of Bonniers Konsthall.

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The Global Ranking 2016, which is based predominantly on 2015 revenue data, lists (or is describing) a total of 57 publishing groups, as in 2014 and 2015, with a combined revenue of m€ 63,739 (up 8 % from 2014, and a staggering 22 % over 2013).

In its 10th iteration, the current transformation of the international book business is reflected in much detail.

After years of relative stability, the reported results for 2014 and now even more dramatically for 2015 show a clear strengthening at the top, with the 10 largest groups accumulating revenues of €34.2bn (up 8 % from 2014, and up 17 % from 2013), and accounting now for 54% of the 50 largest groups described in this ranking, in a continuing increase since 2013.

Over the years, the trend of the biggest growing ever bigger, becomes clear, and ever more so as all of the companies listed in this Ranking are already a selection of the market leaders in the respective territories and segments of the industry.


The top segment of the 10 largest conglomerates in publishing highlights a number of developments:

  • The top 5 have not changed for the past 3 years (with the small exception of ThomsonReuters and RELX changing positions in 2013 and 2014);
  • All the top 10 have seen yearly increases in revenue for the past 3 years, with the exception of Hachette, as it had a slump in 2014 that however was fully compensated in 2015, and McGraw-Hill Education, as it currently undergoes a complete makeover from being acquired and re-positioned by private equity;
  • As in previous years, the very top is, and remains, clearly a domain of actors specialized in either educational (Pearson) or scientific and professional information (ThomsonReuters, Reed Elsevier – now rebranded as RELX -, or Wolters Kluwer).
  • Developments at the largest general trade publishers are more mixed, yet with several companies back in growth, from both increasing sales and through acquisitions.
  • China’s leading publishing groups continue mostly to expand.
  • Brazil’s publishing industry has fallen behind, caught between the severe domestic economic crisis, and a loss of the Brazilian currency, driving down their representation in a ranking that is measuring in Euro (or US dollars).

The recent financial evolution in publishing shows all but a level playing field.

The Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry is an initiative copyrighted by Livres Hebdo (www.livreshebdo.fr ), France, co-published by BookDao (www.bookdao.com ), China, The Bookseller (www.thebookseller.com ), UK, buchreport (www.buchreport.de ), Germany, Publishers Weekly (www.publishersweekly.com ), USA, and PublishNews Brazil (www.publishnewsbrazil.com ). It has been researched by Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting (www.wischenbart.com ).

For more details, see here.

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Discussing the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry with Chinese and international leaders of the book business.

The 2016 edition of the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry will be at the center of a half day conference in Beijing, organized by Bookdao (China), Livres Hebdo (France), and Ruediger Wischenbart Content and Consulting (Austria).

Date:              Wednesday, August 24, from 14.00 to 17.00.
Location:       Grand Metro Park Hotel Beijing, Chaoyang, East Rd. 2

The aim of the conference is to open a dialogue with senior leaders of both Chinese and international top executives in publishing.

Speakers of the 2016 Summit will include international and Chinese publishing leaders, Markus Dohle, CEO, Penguin Random House, Alexander Broich, International President, Cengage Learning, and David Hetherington, Executive Vice-President & COO, Klopotek North America, as well as Wu Shuling, Vice Chairman, China Publishers’ Association, Zhang Jiankang, Chairman, Phoenix Publishing and Media Group, Gong Shuguang, Chairman, China South Publishing & Media Group, and Tong Jian, Chairman, Zhejiang Publishing United Group.

Speakers will discuss

  • Global key trends in the publishing industry in its current transformation;
  • China’s international strategy as the world’s second largest publishing market;
  • Developments of long standing and successful working relationships between Chinese and international publishers in consumer as well as educational publishing, and
  • The impact of digital technology in making the exchange between China and international more effective.

The Global Top 50 Publishing Summit 2016 Beijing will explore how to strategically broaden and and practically improve these assets in the years ahead.

The event is sponsored by Klopotek and Partners, China South  Publishing & Media Group, Phoenix  Publishing & Media Group, and Zhejiang Pubishing United Group.

Contact & registration China: Cheng Sanguo, sanguo.cheng@bookdao.biz

Contact & registration international: Ruediger Wischenbart, ruediger@wischenbart.com

More information at http://www.wischenbart.com/page-55 


About the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry

The Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry, which has been updated every year since 2007, currently represents 56 companies that each report revenues from publishing of over 150 m€ (or 200 m US$).

The Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry is an initiative of Livres Hebdo, France, co-published by Bookdao (China), The Bookseller (UK), buchreport (Germany), Publishers Weekly (USA) and PublishNews Brazil. It has been researched by Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting. © by Livres Hebdo 2016

About Bookdao:

Bookdao is the premier independent professional online media for the publishing and bookselling industry in China, and a service provider for professional marketing, using cutting edge mobile technology and advanced publishing research. www.bookdao.com

About Livres Hebdo

Livres Hebdo is the French Book Trade weekly magazine and website (www.livreshebdo.fr), providing news and a large range of services to publishers, booksellers and librarians, and the initiator of the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry.

About Ruediger Wischenbart Content and Consulting:

Content and Consulting is a leading organizer of market insights, and professional debate, in international publishing. Reports include the Global eBook report (www.global-ebook.com ), the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry. www.wischenbart.com


Beijing, Paris and Vienna, 20 July 2016

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The Global eBook report 2016, the reference and resource on the development of key book publishing markets and drivers for the current transformation is now available at www.global-ebook.com for an introductory price of € 15 (instead of € 20).



Highlights include

  • Freshly updated market close ups for US, UK, continental Europe (Western as well as Central and Southeastern), and emerging markets (Brazil, China, India, Russia);
  • Book publishing versus other content media (including mobile),
  • Comparisons of key drivers for biggest publishing corporations worldwide, and US, UK and EU markets;
  • Exclusive sales analysis by genre, price points and user habits (as seen through piracy usage) for selected European markets;
  • Summaries of international key debates (global actors, pricing, piracy, DRM, industry consolidation, et al.)

Find the executive summary, and direct options to purchase the report at




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All that Publishing!
Check out our agenda for Publishers’ Forum on 28 & 29 April 2016 in Berlin

At the moment, the book business is plagued by uncertainties. Informed orientation and solid fundamental information are the key to successfully managing the transformation of the publishing industry.


Strategic correlations and their condensation into everyday publishing practice will be broached at the Publishers’ Forum 2016.

  • Speakers include Anki Ahrnell (Bonnier), Annette Beetz (Random House), Andrew Franklin (ProfileBooks), Florian Geuppert (Holtzbrinck), Michael E. Hansen (Cengage), Birgit Hagmann (Tolino), Klaus Kluge (Luebbe), Carmen Ospina (Penguin Random House, Douglas McCabe (Enders Analysis), Karla Paul (Edel), Kate Worlock (Outsell) et al.
  • Special focus on digital education and learning: International debates and German initiatives;
  • …and a call for innovative concepts in publishing!

Join us in Berlin!
Register here.


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Rüdiger Wischenbart

Freedom of Expression, in practical terms.
A review of debates in 2015. In memoriam of Charlie and all others persecuted for their speech and attitude.


Throughout 2015, debates on the freedom of speech, and attitude, have shaped, as a polarizing force, like some restlessly flickering, and menacing neon sign projected onto the screens of media and public debate all over the world.

What converges in German in one single word, “Meinungsfreiheit” (or, in English, in the short phrase of “freedom of expression”), is formally well-founded in a complex hierarchy of legal standards at all levels, from a UN Charter, to the individual level, as a moral premises for one’s personal life. And yet, a choir of multiple dissonant voices gained ground last year, some urging to maintain the universality of the claim, while others either called for limiting its grounds, in order to juxtaposing the universal freedom to other practices, be they religious, or simply customary, or at least by emphasizing that the universal freedom of the word was simply impractical in today’s complicated world.

All these intricate movements run like under a magnifying glass together in a statement by Salman Rushdie, the writer who, by his pertinent experience, speaks from a fairly unique background of authority in that matter. He did, said Rushdie, not think that a book like his novel “The Satanic Verses” might get similar backing now, as was the case when it was originally published in 1988: “We’re in a difficult place [today], because there’s a lot of fear and nervousness around.” Interestingly, Rushdie made this statement not in 2015, but already three years earlier, in an interview with the BBC, in 2012.

The questioning of the freedom of speech, and of the attitudes of 2015, had a lead. However, for this essay, I am fairly disinterested in that history, and instead want to focus on the current practicalities of a controversy which, I presume, will keep haunting us in the months, and probably in the years, ahead.

For Rushdie, the argument condensed in a simple fact: Can a book appear? And, is there an immediate threat to its author, or its supporters (like publishers, critics, or translators), or not?

For all bystanders, the respective question reads: How do I stand by it?

In other words, I firmly believe that the challenges with regard to freedom of expression in 2015 are not so much philosophical, or religious, but very practical in nature.

The Saudi poet Ashraf Fayadh, a writer and also, for many years, an experienced mediator between the cultural worlds of his native Arab lands, and the West, had been convicted in 2008 for a volume of poems, “Instruction Within”, to four years in prison and 800 lashes with a whip, whose execution a person normally cannot survive, and that judgment has recently been exacerbated: Ashraf Fayadh has been sentenced by a Saudi Arabian court to death by decapitation. The 47 executions all across Saudi Arabia on January 1st, 2016, have given additional credibility to this threat.

Worldwide protests across Western countries were the result, often with photos portraying Ashraf Fayadh together with representatives of the most recognized European art institutions, with whom he has worked for many years together, as in the Biennale in Venice or at the Tate Modern in London. Very similarly, earlier last year, the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi had been convicted to 1000 lashes, and 10 years in prison. Badawi, from what we know, is currently on a hunger strike.

Saudi Arabia is such a comprehensive and exemplary case, more so, in my view, than for instance China, which, to a degree, and despite all objections to “the West”, aims at occupying a role with some consensual legitimacy in the global context of nations; though I admit that this is debatable. This contrasts to the Saudi government which has always understood, as a core to its international policy, to project the difference to a higher – namely: religious – ground of legitimacy when it decided to neither sign the UN Convention on Human Rights, nor join nor any other comparable agreement.

Nevertheless, at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2015, the International Publishers Association (IPA ) has voted to welcome the publishers’ associations of Saudi Arabia, and of China, as new members. By that move, IPA’s prestigious “Freedom to Publish Award” will accordingly be co-sponsored from now on, in addition to all the other members, by the publishers associations of those two countries.

The Saudi publishers’ association sent word that it was independent of its government’s decisions. The organization, however, refrained from announcing the newly won international membership on their Arabic website – that is to say, at least as long as the site was online, until early November 2015.

The IPA argues: “Commitment gives us a chance to support our colleagues whereas non-engagement brings nothing“.

Admittedly, it is an ambivalent case. I learn that the IPA is in fact actively lobbying with Saudi authorities in support of both Raif Badawi and Ashraf Fayad, which must not be underestimated, given the very few such channels of interaction that are still open. And IPA’s president, Richard Charkin, of UK Bloomesbury publishers, has recently protested loudly against the disappearance of Hong Kong based disappeared publishing professionals, as Chinese authorities are suspected of being involved.

Once again, the weird oddities could not be illustrated more lively than by the far echoes on the controversy around Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” in recent months. In early fall 2015, it was Saudi Arabia who had its ambassador to the Czech Republic issue a formal protest to the Czech government against a new Czech translation of the book – which was turned down by the government, and also ignored by the Czech publisher.

The invitation of Salman Rushdie, as a speaker, to the opening press conference of the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2015 however resulted in Iran’s cancellation of its official participation at the exhibition. The gesture though did not meet any protest from the Saudis, who for some time incidentally lobby all major book fairs for some time now to be invited as a country of honor, and who before Frankfurt, already hoped for being embraced by the IPA.

So, most weirdly, the arch enemy governments of Shiite Iran, and Sunni-Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, who are ferociously engaged in their proxy wars in Syria, Iraq, and in Yemen, find themselves united in that one and same camp of opposing a novel written by Salman Rushdie, and published, and read, time and again, by readers from around the world.


There are many good reasons why governments and international organizations should maintain the conversation between each other, in cases of conflict, or even warfare.

In return, there are also sound arguments, too, emphasizing why, and how, non-governmental organizations should be more selective in their attitude. And thirdly, there is always good ground for scrutiny in the case that governments intervene directly, as self-appointed judges, in cultural, or artistic, creation and expression.

Freedom of expression is not a liberal fancy at all. For those who get challenged in the event, the liberty of doing, and saying, what they choose is equal to the right guaranteeing their physical integrity. Either one cannot be relativized without the clear risk of a total loss. This is not an abstraction, but a very practical assessment.

In May 2015, just four months after the murders at Charlie Hebdo and at a Jewish grocery shop in Paris, the International PEN, the most important organization in defense of persecuted writers, had decided to award the editors of Charlie a “Freedom of Speech” price. Incidentally, six prominent writers and members of the PEN protested in advance against the decision, and announced to stay away from the ceremony, because Charlie Hebdo represented, in their view, a case of “cultural intolerance“.

Wolinski in Charlie Hebdo, no580, 23 Dec 1981

Wolinski in Charlie Hebdo, no580, 23 Dec 1981

From Salman Rushdie’s perspective, which I share, the direct consequence of such an assessment is equivalent to “The Satanic Verses” not having hardly a chance to be published today.

The PEN has fortunately not backed down, but awarded Charlie the price, similar to the Czech publisher who, unimpressed, released the new translation of Rushdie’s book.

The International Publishers Association, IPA, thus far, has no written guidelines in its statutes, defining who can be a member, and thereby acting as a co-sponsor to their prestigious “Freedom to Publish” award. The controversy surrounding the decision on accepting both Saudi Arabia and China as new members in 2015 has very much highlighted the importance of having such a statute.


Fortunately, decisions on those matters are not necessarily about life or death.

In German – and more broadly in European – newspapers, magazines and online forums, over the past year, the expected philosophical arguments have flourished, debating which fundamental concepts, principles, or morals must reign for European ‘values’ (this was the most common term for defining the battle ground) to prevail.

Frankly, I got deeply frustrated with the debate, and so for two reasons. First, and foremost, most of these discussions got quickly caught up in battles along pretty much sectarian, and abstract, ideological fault lines, so that by default, ‘values’ were taken as hostages to defend relative causes. For example, the murder of the Charlie editors (or the threat against Danish Mohamed caricaturists earlier on, or before that, Salman Rushdie, etc.), were reverse engineered, with the victims, and not the aggressors, being challenged to defend themselves why he or she had been aggressed in the first place. I clearly doubt it that this is a reasonable approach to organize the world of 8 billion humans on the planet.

The other, admittedly less pressing, concern was the attitude of the debaters who would brush off anyone not settling on either camp in their ideological turf wars. In my case, it did not do great harm, but simply resulted in my essay being refused, cannily, with the argument that everything had been said about the matter anyway already. Granted.

I want to return to my point: Freedom of expression is practical, and it is important as such. It is very much about stating: How do I stand by it?

In Poland – and that is, purposefully, a long shot from Saudi Arabia, or China – a new government has recently chosen a theater performance as a battle ground over values, the State, and Freedom of Expression, just a month after gaining power.

The theater of Wroclaw was rehearsing the play “The Death and the Maiden” by Nobel Laureate author Elfriede Jelinek, when the new Minister of Culture, and the Deputy Prime Minister intervened, days before the opening, calling for the suspension of the production, because of suspected “porn”, and “porn actors”, being involved in a stage show that had received public subsidies. For clarity, it must be said that hardly any municipal, provincial or state theaters in continental Europe, featuring a broad and diverse selection of plays and genres, can do their job without such public money.

The crucial point in our context, though, is not the critical intervention by the politicians per se, but their main argument. In a letter, explaining the cause, Adam A. Kwiatkowski, Director at the Financial Department Ministry of Culture, expressly stated that the call for an interdiction was not based on any breach of a Polish law, but for “breaking commonly accepted rules of social coexistence”. (“…łamiącej powszechnie przyjęte zasady współżycia społecznego.“, quoted in wPolityce )

This is the point: When any informal “commonly accepted rules” are gaining the upper hand over law and independent justice, we have lost the rule of the constitutional state.

The often vague, and opaque, debates of 2015 about Freedom of Expression, and whatever fluid and relative alternative norms, directly undermine the rule of law, and do so with a purpose. The legal norms that come here under attack have not been imposed, once and for all, by some outer worldly instance, but have evolved, over time, materializing in a broad consensus among the people concerned. Replacing that process by referring to some diffuse “commonly accepted rules of social coexistence”, is certainly no fit formula for the many diverse citizens to co-exist in today’s complex societies.

© by ruediger  (at) wischenbart.com 2016

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Instead of making predictions about publishing in 2016, Joe Wikert, the wise man, opts for formulating what he wishes to happen. And so in a very hands on way. I (almost) fully share his hopes!

Aside from the obvious (“less DRM“), the well intended (making it easier for publishers to directly interact with their readers, and consumers (which gets so much easier, once DRM is skipped), and the fancy (“new sustainable unlimited ebook subscriptions” – here I am more doubtful, yet acknowledge Joe’s background with O’Reilly’s pioneering “Safari” service), I am all enthusiastic for his last wish: “Better notes and annotations, outside the book“.

If you read for work, for education or simply for fun, chances are high that you have our little scheme of annotating (and sharing) what you read. Some use those bright marker pens, which others despise, and instead use a tiny pencil to underline, or comment. Personally, I discreetly underline, with a pencil, then annotate, or simply make a reference at the blank pages that can be found at the end of almost any book. So even many years later, I can find what had preoccupied my mind when reading a work.

Not so with ebooks. With digital reading being still in its very early days (yes!), chances are high that, since my initial reading of a book, I have moved on to a new reading gadget and software – so that my notes are all gone.

Is anyone surprised why college or university students rather opt for paper? Disregarding that they consume any other content digitally, and in usages that are integrated with their social networks and friends?

Given that oddity, is anyone still wondering why ebooks currently have  such a hard time to reach audiences beyond those early adopters, and the strongest readers of (fast) fiction?

How many of us have, in the meantime, opted for, and integrated into their information and exchange routines something like Evernote (or any other platform to organize thoughts, todo lists, shopping lists, references to music and movies one would want to consume. Yet this is not available for digital books.

Saving and sharing has become so seamless for almost anything – including reading, done on the web (with Instapaper, or GetPocket). Though not for reading a book.

Hence my simple question, together with Joe Wikert: Why must ebooks be so complicated? I just don’t know.

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Sonia Draga is not simply an independent publisher in Poland. She stands out in today s business of books as someone who gave an old industry an exemplary fresh look. Starting with just one book (a cook book), typesetting it herself, 15 years ago, and broadening the venture into one of Polands leading houses for international fiction since then.

An yet, she is not the only one of her kind. A good week ago, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, we welcomed in the Frankfurt CEO Talks two of her peers, Marcos Pereira of Editorial Sextante in Brazil, and Andrew Wilkins of Profile Books in the UK (more on that soon in this blog – and by the way, these glorious indie publishers even do not know each other in person, so far).

All three share an appetite for good international reading, aka great authors, and the boldness to say: There is plenty of room for new publishers in this industry. Which is an attitude that, frankly, I admire a lot.

In Krakow, I just had spent a full day of multiple conversations, because Poland will be the honorary guest country at the BookExpo America Global Market Forum 2016. BEA, as we call it, will be in Chicago next year which, co-incidentally, is the second largest Polish city, right after Warsaw – and by head count of Polish immigrants from a century and a half, topping Krakow!

(Sidestep: Europeans, watch out for such developments, which provide a strong argument to emphasize the long term perspective when it comes to migration! For Austrians, for instance, Chicagoe is arguably the biggest city of Burgenland, our country s most Eastern province).


And Jonathan Franzen in all this? He is published in Poland by Sonia, of course, and he was most upbeat, as we shook hands at Sonias party, about BEA this year, where he had held the big opening address.

International book publishing is certainly big in its good spirits, but also a small world.

Stay tuned.





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