Country stands or collective stands enable several publishers to share the cost of the exhibition space, with each member publisher paying less than if they were to take the whole stand themselves. Likewise, Malaysian publishers wishing to join the country stand are required to pay a fee to the lead, usually government, agency. The fee varies from year to year.
The reason for this variation is not always clear; either way publishers have to calculate the return on their investment and hope the government can assist them in their efforts in this difficult yet important task of exporting literature and culture. Their groans seem to have been heard for this year, the Book Council, together with several government agencies, have pooled their resources so that publishers joining the country stand are exempted from having to pay any fee. This news was greeted in typical fashion by publishers - close to twenty of them signed up to join the country stand, possibly the largest number in the history of the Malaysian stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Publishing is many things but it is also about margins. Now that their costs are reduced, no doubt Malaysian publishers joining the country stand are hoping this may be their best year yet, encouraged by the support from their government.
The National Book Council has also prepared a special catalogue for Frankfurt Book Fair - the 50 Best Malaysian Titles for International Rights. This annual catalogue has been well received and publishers whose books have been selected may also use the recognition sticker on their books, even after the fair. In addition, publishers attending the fair are also featured in a 16-page tabloid. The catalogue and tabloid are distributed free during the fair.
Finally, business breakfast ala Malaysia, which means delicious, is available at the stand, free of charge, for the first three days of the fair.
Visit the Malaysia stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair - it's good for your body and mind.