An Anthropological Analysis of Book Fairs

Brian Moeran

    Research output: Working paperResearch

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    This working paper examines the role of international book fairs in the global publishing industry, and in particular their relation to the publishing cycle, chain and field. It outlines some relevant historical features, as well as main functions, of fairs, before describing in detail the daily activities of an independent academic publisher at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Analysis of the book fair takes place at two levels. The first focuses on the importance of visibility in a fair’s timing and location, as well as in the location and size of participants’ stands, inclusion in the fair catalogue, business deals, and social gatherings. The second examines the book fair as a tournament of values, or ritual tournament, in terms of its framing, membership and currency. The argument presented is that the currency of copyright is not dissimilar to a form of gift exchange and that, as a result, a book is both commodity and gift. It is in the shadow of the gift that the commodity of the book is produced, distributed, sold and read.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
    Publisherimagine.. CBS
    Number of pages24
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008
    SeriesCreative Encounters Working Paper


    • Book fair
    • Copyright
    • Gifts and commodities
    • Publishing industry
    • Ritual tournament
    • Values
    • Visibility

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