Lessons from the Book Fair

As we all know, Trade Fairs are wonderful places for networking and lucrative business deals. But that’s not all. As an extra bonus they offerwebite-home-148 ample opportunity to experience romance, persecution and paranoia.

The Frankfurt Book Fair took place last week. I went from Tuesday to Saturday. Four full days and very long evenings with colleagues and competitors from around the globe.

I skipped the affair. Instead I opted straight away for persecution and paranoia. And for good reason.

It happened on day two, in a meeting with an American publisher. I arrived at his stand, ready to impress. I showed him the books and told him how well they are doing in the UK. He took one of them, opened it, stopped, looked, looked again and pointed out a typing mistake so obvious that for a split second I was convinced I must have accidently given him the wrong book. I of course never noticed it before but it’s actually hard to miss. I managed to hold myself  together during the meeting and we finished on good terms. But as I walked away I just wanted a hole to open up in the ground. Needless to say for the rest of the day I was convinced that the entire publishing world is judging Peirene on that typo. Each time I showed anybody the books I had to bite my tongue to not point out the mistake myself. Truth to tell, I don’t know if anyone else noticed. But even though, I woke up the next morning in cold sweat with the wrong letter standing large and forbidding in front of my closed eyes. I made a note to myself to improve the Peirene proofreading process and that decision finally got me out of bed.

As I walked to my first meeting, I passed a man with a big basket on his lap. The basket was full of little paper rolls, held together by colourful wool ribbons. A sign announced: A poem for a smile. I smiled at him and received one of the rolls with a poem. I unrolled the scroll. “As you stumble, a sudden reawakening as if you have wings growing.” I felt like turning around and giving the man not only another smile but a kiss too. The tiny poem brought the voice of reason back into my head: No one ever said setting up a business or running one means perfection from the start. When I stumble over the short comings, I must recognize them and improve. And with that newly found conviction the next meetings went swimmingly.

Having said that, there is I am afraid a limit to my ability – and indeed my willingness – to learn from past mistakes. If you are a conscientious follower of my blog you will know about my shoe debacle at Frankfurt last year. I was determined not to repeat history. To my credit, I even took an afternoon off to buy some flat shoes a few days prior to going. But I just couldn’t find a suitable pair, and bought a new handbag instead. So this year had to be high heels again. Luckily I wore the most comfortable rather than the most elegant. Yes, my feet hurt and I’ve got a couple of blisters too, but I didn’t cry. I bore my pain as a proud tall woman.

Please note our website uses cookies to improve your experience. I understand. For more information see our Privacy Policy .