Then there was a long, protracted fall. Between 1680 and 1690, nearly every publishing house in Frankfurt collapsed due to the indebtedness of publishers. As a result of this there was an anti-Semitic backlash, Jewish financiers becoming the scapegoats for the failure of the publishing houses, and regulations were imposed forbidding trading to Jews. In fact, it was the wars instigated by Louis XIV, and repercussions of the War of the Spanish Succession that crippled the economy.N.B.: I am a book editor. It's possible (but unlikely) that I know someone mentioned somewhere in the things I've linked to.
As well, the Reformation had moved the intellectual hub north, and the center of trade was shifting east, giving Leipzig an edge over Frankfurt. Bookshops in Frankfurt turned into bars.
By the mid-1800s, even Leipzig was in decline. Book fairs – as they were envisioned then – had had their day, as the book trade was no longer dependent on fairs.
The modern era of the Frankfurt Book Fair, after a few false starts, began in the late 1940s. The 1950 fair was a major success. It was both a cultural exchange and a trade show emphasizing merchandising and marketing. A literary peace prize had also been established – Albert Schweitzer won it that year – giving the fair an added PR boost.
There was no shortage of intrigue in the post-war book fair. The Cold War and the building of the Berlin Wall led to the infiltration of West Germany (and the Frankfurt Book Fair) by East German spies! Beginning in 1967 and continuing into the 70s, undercover agents (using pseudonyms) from East German publishing houses were covertly checking out the activity at the fair, seeing which of their authors had books there.
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