People, 1. -  3. October 1998
Rüdiger Wischenbart

Local Perspectives

in a Globalizing Culture.

The Challenge for Local and Regional
Small and Medium Size Enterprises in the Publishing Industries.

A Systematic Approach.

Globalisiation & Concentration:

  • 8,5 billion US $ spent for mergers and acquisitions in the USA in 1-6/1998
  • 90 % of the US book market controlled by top 20 companies by 1999


  • 2 conglomerates (Hachette & CEP Communication) control over 50 % of the French book market
  • 26 publishers with over 100 million Francs have 75 % market share
  • In specialized sections far more (reference: 96 %; textbooks 82 %)


  • Publishers with more than 60 million DM turnover grow by 4,2 %
  • Top 50 grow by 5,7 %
  • Publishers between 18 and 60 million DM grow by 1,6 %.

Consequences e.g. for the book market

Book = 1 of many media for content

Slow vs. fast channels

New middelmen rise:

  • (Book- & Media-) Superstores
  • Supermarkets
  • Online (Book- & Media) retailers
  • Companies globalize - and so does content
  • The consumer turns into the (versatile) user
  • Choice turns into opportunity
    New technologies - new channels
  • Information
  • Entertainment
  • Education
  • Art and Culture all compete for attention, time & money of the user (the public)

Slow Motion in Fast Times

  • Globalized content
    Þ A broad view from everywhere (everything can be accessed / can be seen)
  • Local form & media
    transnational impact on local content (the public / user compares everything from everywhere)
  • Niche content may change the media (e.g. local history goes online)
  • Niche content becomes de-professionalized
  • Culture jobs turn into culture as a hobby (despite the use of advanced technological knowhow!)

The alternative: Professionalise small enterprises

Initiate a new approach to content:

  • Specific content and profile ("creative" industries)
  • Specific public (not necessarily on a local / regional scale)
  • Specific channels and media (user-driven)
  • Specific emphasis on distribution

The alternative: Professionalise small enterprises

Internationalize small & medium publishing / culture companies:

Þ Co-productions

Þ Trading rights

Þ Printing on Demand; Online etc.

Þ Creating communities

Þ Exchanging bits & bytes

Thus open (transnational) platforms are needed, e.g.
The Frankfurt Book Fair / The Frankfurt Rights Catalogue / Virtual Frankfurt

  • The digital complement for access and orientation
  • A level playing field
  • Advanced technology accessible for everyone everywhere (2000 companies from 68 countries)

Dynamic perspectives:

  • A global and professional platform open for local enterprises
  • A many to many network for the exchange of information and the trade of rights
  • User-driven
  • Business-to-business
  • Open to new media & technologies

Political consequences:

  • Supporting production:
    has no answer to the rise of new channels an no answer to changes in user orientations
  • Creating dynamic frames (access to open platforms) is instead:

User driven (focus on distribution and on on channels)

Generating feed back (implement tools for evaluation)

The Goals:

  • Sustaining Variety
  • Create communities of users / of the public
  • Encourage SME to form nodes between local and transnational networks
  • Hold (or create) jobs in culture and the arts

Rüdiger Wischenbart is the Press Officer of the Frankfurt Book Fair



Rüdiger Wischenbart (*1956, Graz), PhD in German Literature. Journalist and Publicist. Lecturer at the University of Vienna. Essays and several books on contemporary literature, cultural politics and on culture in Central Europe. Last publications: "Canettis Angst. Erkundungen am Rande Europas (Canetti's Fear. Explorations on the European Periphery)", 1993; "Sehnsucht nach der Großen Stadt. Flüchtlingsgeschichten aus Wien (Longing to become a Metropole. Migration and Refuge in Vienna)", 1995. Wischenbart is currently the Chief Press Officer of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Institution: Frankfurt Book Fair, G
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