Publishing online can take the form of a multinational company launching a series of books, or a personal revelation. Unbounded by the packaging, distribution, and time constraints of physical media, anyone who lives digitally is contributing to the Great Record of our worldwide recorded culture, and the thrill of that power is just beginning to be felt by publishers now in Frankfurt.
The OBS "Schwerpunkt Österreich" presentation demonstrates "borderless" quality of the medium by drawing on personal experience combined with organizational talent and hard work.
Twenty-five years ago, Laura Fillmore, President of Online BookStore (OBS), now "Open Book Systems", spent a year in Austria with American Field Service (AFS) as an exchange student. Since 1977, Laura has followed Austrian publishing activities at the international book fairs, meeting first Manfred Kramer from Adeva Verlag in Graz, and then Reinhold Weber from Graz and Frankfurt Book Fair. Both of these organizations are featured prominently in this year's Schwerpunkt online site.
While visiting her Austrian family last June, Laura's virtual brother Herwig suggested "Der Standard" and Felix Mitterer's "Piefke-Saga" as good possibilities for inclusion in the "Schwerpunkt" site, and these publications round out the Austrian publishers' selections at the site -- highlighted of course by the information about the Schwerpunkt activities themselves.
So a certain amount of serendipity, together with the essential support from Rüdiger Wischenbart, combine with the global power of the Internet to allow us to show at once how different publishing without borders, among different countries, can be on the Net.
Our version of "Schwerpunkt Österreich" is a beginning point from which we, together with our partners EUnet/Germany, and publishers and people we meet in Frankfurt, hope to build more multinational, multilingual publishing projects.
"Walk together, talk together," is one AFS aphorism that unites the students who travel far and experience what "home" means in different cultures. On the Internet, home is where we find a net connection for the night, from which we still explore the world mostly through the medium of words.
For most people with a link on this earth, the virtual voice and feet with which to talk and talk together hang like vapor on a future horizon. But tens of millions of people write their real-time lives online every day. These multimedia capabilities that will enable us to publish and live online in ways yet unimagined, might be built for tomorrow from the starting points created at the Frankfurt Book Fair today, from the talk at intimate dinners, the presentations at symposia, the casual conversations in the halls of Frankfurt.
Personal and public, we evolve ourselves, and this "Schwerpunkt Österreich" site represents one step along that path.