Arena for Books

Create physical worlds of experience for digital content! €9,500 prize pool

Create physical worlds of experience for digital content!


Background information 
The digitalization and globalization of the markets have been driving rapid transformation processes in the book industry for years now. Products by publishing houses are being provided in digital form and the services related to the book trade are also becoming increasingly digital. The entire sector is faced with the problem of having to present digital publishing products and services in a physical space, at bricks-and-mortar book retailers, at book fairs and conferences. When it comes to sales and consultation, personal contact is still of fundamental importance, but this can only be successful if the digital products and services are accordingly simple and can be attractively presented.

Forum Zukunft (Future Forum)
The Forum Zukunft (Future Forum) is the experimental laboratory of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. Its goal is to conceive, develop and try out new ideas and possibilities for the book trade.

Digital Arena
In 2014 the Forum Zukunft launched the “Digital Arena”. This crowdstorming is part of the project that aims to create new, future-oriented analog worlds of experience for digital content.

Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers and Booksellers Association) 
As an association, the Börsenverein represents 5500 publishing houses and bookstores in German-speaking countries and on all levels and with different initiatives dedicated to the future of the book industry.

Frankfurter Buchmesse (Frankfurt Book Fair)
The Frankfurt Book Fair is a subsidiary of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. It takes place annually – this year from 8 until 12 October – and with around 7300 exhibitors and over 275,000 visitors it is the biggest book fair in the world. This is where the latest industry trends are presented to the (specialist) audience. The winning ideas resulting from this project will be presented at the Book Fair and discussed with the jury and industry experts!


The Future Forum is looking for future-oriented ideas of how digital content can be made visible and tangible in a physical space, to provide its members (German publishing houses and bookstores) and the international exhibitors of the Frankfurt Book Fair with new ways of presenting their publishing products.

Task Definition

Develop future-oriented and viable ideas for the physical presentation of digital publishing products and services in bookstores and at trade fairs.

Digital products are e.g. eBooks, from a novel to a specialist magazine etc.
Digital services are e.g. websites, databases, apps etc.

Ideally, it should be possible to use your idea in all formats, from the small info stand at the local book store to a huge trade fair stand. Show your idea based on at least one of the following examples of use:

a) A presentation stand for digital content in the stationary book trade.
How can a stationary bookstore present eBooks or other digital content on their shop floor and in the shop window? The flexibility of the solution in terms of the retail area is important to the bookstores. Your idea should be aimed at bookstore chains as well as book retailers where space is at a premium.

b) A presentation stand for digital content at a book fair or a conference.
How will publishing houses present their digital goods at trade fairs and conferences in the future? Ideally, you should find a solution that can be used at both ends of the spectrum, from the smallest to the largest trade fair booth. It is also important that your solution can be easily transported and stored.

c) A presentation tool for publishers
How can publishing houses make their digital titles visible? Publishers present their program on a regular basis and on different occasions: at readings, in sales meetings with book dealers, in front of press. What is needed is a versatile, portable solution that offers compensating benefits for the missing haptic experience. 

The Future Forum is planning to exhibit the best ideas from this project at the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair! The more detailed the description of your idea and the more precise your plans, the greater the chance that your idea will be presented to a worldwide audience!

Creative starters
The following questions may help you to get started on the topic: 

  • How can content that only exists in a digital space be made visible on a physical level?
  • How can digital content be subtly presented in a bookstore or at a trade fair so that the target audience doesn’t feel like they’re in an electrical goods store?
  • How can your idea seamlessly support on and offline book campaigns and projects?

Target Group

All stakeholders along the “book” supply chain.

  • Authors (who should be able to identify with the presentation method of their book)
  • Publishers/publishing houses (as representatives of the book trade at fairs and industry events)
  • Retailers (book retailers in bricks-and-mortar stores) 
  • Service providers (like distributors, shop fitters and agencies) 
  • Consumers (the readers who want to be advised in the stores)
  • In particular, members of the industry association (Börsenverein) and the national and international exhibitors of the Frankfurt Book Fair


The tonality of your solution must be versatile enough so that it can be used to present the wide-ranging offer of digital contents (from the digital children’s book to the crime novel and from the specialist magazine to the database).

Mandatory requirements

The cheaper and more technically simple your idea is to produce, the greater the chance it will have of being selected by the Future Forum!

Helpful links

Halftime Feedback

Dear All, 

Yesterday the first official Jury round in this awsome project took place. It was a super engaging discussion fueled by the different positions, interests and angles of the Jurymembers, which represent different disciplines in the book-market. Especially the the two main players, publishing houses and booksellers which are in Germany both members in one associaton - the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels. Here are the most important outtakes that hopefully help you to take your ideas further:

digital vs physical

In a world that is almost fully digitalized the physical becomes a completely new importance.
It is abolutely great to see how you explore the boundaries and the grayscales between DIGITAL and PHYSICAL. We see many great examples of hybrid solutions that try to unify the best of both words and that’s what we are looking for here.

human vs technicalmany of your ideas and comments  look very far into the future and even question the physical aspects of the book, namely

  • the book itsself
  • the physical bookstore
  • the human bookseller

Those thoughts are super interesting BUT one important aspect in the briefing is: “When it comes to sales and consultation, personal contact is still of fundamental importance”.

Thus: Please find more solutios that SUPPORT todays booksellers and bookstores rather than REPLACING them!


As the briefing states: “The Future Forum is planning to exhibit the best ideas from this project at the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair.” - that means THIS YEAR in OCTOBER! Think about ways to tame your wild futuristic ideas and make them feasable for NOW or at least for the near future.

uniqueness in terms of expereicne

Most things today are available digitally from home. So comparable to e.g. the movie ceaters in times of home-entertainment  the bookstores need UNIQUE experiences that you can get at the tradefair or at the bookstore and nowhere else! And again: The HUMAN bookseller and the PERSONAL INTERACTION plays a central role here. How can your digital solution SUPPORT this HUMAN INTERACTION?

uniqueness in terms of the book-subject

some of the ideas could easyly be applied to other (digital) products as well. Try to find solutions that are as unique for the book-subject as possible!

one idea for diverse purposes

The requirements of the three subtasks:

  1. a solution for the stationary book store
  2. a solution for a book fair
  3. a presentation tool for publishers

are as a matter of fact quite diverse. Still we believe that solutions can be found that serve all three purposes.

Again a huge WOW for all your submissions, thoughts and comments. The book business is changing in a big way and with this project your are in the middle of it!


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