Frankfurt Book Fair

I’ve been on the road 4 weeks now. My wife Lesley and I have spent week in London, then a week driving down the southwest coast of Ireland, then to Edinburgh and by car more or less down the east coast of England, which I left last night to come to the Frankfurt International Book Fair. I’ve posted photos and commentary on my blog, which is

I’m getting organized today to begin 4 days of meetings. Our books are suddenly hot overseas. I’m meeting agents, publishers, or distributors from Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, Vietnam, China, Korea, Australia, South Africa, and Singapore. Stretching is in 23 languages and I’m negotiating contracts for the new significantly-improved 30th anniversary edition in each country. The Koreans have (in the last 5-6 years) published just about every one of our books. Getting Back in Shape is going into Serbian. Stretching will be translated for the first time into Vietnamese. Shelter is in Chinese. I’m pretty excited about the next few days. It’s great to connect with different cultures.

Carpenters’ Dream


Each year when I come to the Book Fair, I stay in a spa town, Bad Homburg, a 20-min. train ride from Frankfurt. I flew from London yesterday afternoon and didn’t get to my hotel until about 8:30 PM, got gently scolded by my landlady for being so late, took a shower, then headed out to eat, a cold night. My favorite restaurant, Kartoffulkuche, was closed, and I saw this pub down a dark alley, walked down, pushed open the door, and wham/bam!—I’d walked into a medieval inn, but with 21st century touches.

A half-timbered ceiling, walls of rough plaster painted yellow, lights making a warm glow. Candles here and there. Music in background with a beat. A lot of raucus noise. I sit at the bar in front of some unique wood-structure beer taps and look around. Jesus! On the walls and ceiling are hung or stocked or shelved, old woodworker tools. Like 30 old brace and bit drills, dozens of old wooden block planes, a beautiful collection of carpenters’ bow saws; The types of beer are written on 3′-wide black circular saw blades on the wall. The tables are polished old workbenches.

I’ve spent a lot of time using various tools, and have been around countless builders—all of us interested in tools, and here I’ve walked into a tool museum that any Eric Sloane fan would love, that would dazzle any carpenter.

I got a foamy dark German beer on tap, and rumpsteak and home-fried potatoes, boy was it good! Followed by 2 more foamy beers. And looked around and around at the tools. The beer, the food, the loud conversations (hearty lads), the warm light, friendly bartenders, thumping music…it felt immensely good.

It was like a hearty welcome back to Deutschland, land of (some of) my ancestors (after 4 weeks in Britain, land of other ancestors).

Back to Biz

Stretching–30th Anniversary Edition and Illustrated Gardners Catalog

We’re way behind schedule with both of these books (as usual), but also as usual, it’s been worth the delays, because they’ve both been honed. Update on both books coming in the next month.

Tiny House book

We’ve been gathering info for a year, and it’s my next major project, starting in November. In the somewhat cosmic category, Lesley and I ended up spending two nights in her cousins’ 100 sq. ft. beach hut, watching the water and clouds, hearing wind in the eaves, no electricity, no running water. Perfect for starting this new book.

To follow further adventures on this trip, including an upcoming week in Paris, check my blog.

(Posted 2 days later due to wi-fi scarcity here) I have a ton of stuff, will try to catch up next week in Paris.

Security at the Frankfurt Book Fair is overboard. There are about 18 cop cars (Polizei) parked in one of the parking lots. Cops and security guards everywhere you look, all with guns, clubs, mace, handcuffs. Cops always in pairs, often one has an Uzi-type automatic rifle (with big curved ammo clip) hung diagonally across chest, in position to raise quickly and fire. They watch everyone, all the time. Is this all necessary? Are book lovers really a terrorist target?

The fair is bustling. Mobbed with people.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

2 Responses to Frankfurt Book Fair

  1. Thank you, a very enjoyable read.
    Last year I finished building my own garden studio so it will be fascinating to read and see the exploits of others who have made their own small places. I will certainly keep my eyes open for you blog and book.

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