Over the next few years Michael Ende received in excess of a thousand invitations to read from his work. Soon he was travelling back and forth across Germany, setting off on new tours every three to six weeks. Although he was unable to accept every invitation, he attended countless events in theatres, town halls and universities, giving an average of two readings a day in different towns. Ende’s circle of readers kept increasing. Large-capacity venues were hired for the readings, but tickets were in high demand.
For Michael Ende, such popularity was a burden, not a joy.
A few years after the publication of The Neverending Story, he described his aversion to Q&A sessions: ‘I’m not especially keen on these sessions, but the readers seem to want them. From the author’s point of view, it’s quite draining, especially when you’ve done a lot of readings in a row. After three weeks on the road it’s excruciating to be asked the same old questions and give the same reply. You can’t blame the readers, though - to them it’s all new. In the end the answer pops out of your mouth without you even thinking. It’s not good for the soul. Reading-tours have a demoralizing effect on me. That’s why I don’t do many of them anymore. After a reading-tour I’m usually so physically and mentally exhausted that I can’t bear to hear a single line from my book for another eight weeks. You get so sick of it.’
During this period publishers and booksellers were struggling to combat a rise in pirated editions, a phenomenon that impinged on legitimate sales of Ende’s books. Eventually a law was passed to stop the black-market trade.