Cel­e­brat­ing books

Au­dio-books and an in­tel­li­gent com­mu­nity booth that can func­tion as a book shop were just some of the tech of­fer­ings for book­worms at the Shang­hai Book Fair this year

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG KUN in Shang­hai

Pen­guin Ran­dom House, one of the world’s lead­ing book pub­lish­ers, cel­e­brated its 10th an­niver­sary in China this year by mak­ing a de­but at the Shang­hai Book Fair with a col­lec­tion of Pen­guin clas­sics.


The high­light of the 12th Shang­hai Book Fair this year was on the dig­i­tal evo­lu­tion of read­ing, as hi-tech read­ing tools and plat­forms stole the lime­light from their print coun­ter­parts.

While the main lo­ca­tion for the book fair was the Shang­hai Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­ter, hun­dreds of ac­tiv­i­ties took place at all the 17 dis­tricts and coun­ties in the city dur­ing the event which ran from Au­gust 19 to 25.

The fair, which at­tracted more than 300,000 visi­tors over seven days, fea­tured more than 150,000 books by 500 pub­lish­ing houses from all over China as well as dig­i­tal el­e­ments such as a multi-pur­pose in­for­ma­tion booth, an au­dio-book shar­ing plat­form by Xi­malaya FM, as well as new ap­pli­ca­tions and dig­i­tal tools from pub­lish­ers and in­sti­tu­tions.

The in­for­ma­tion booth, jointly de­vel­oped by East­day. com and the Shang­hai Cen­tury Pub­lish­ing Group with sup­port from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, is aimed at bring­ing books and in­for­ma­tion to residential com­mu­ni­ties. Come the end of this year, some of these booths will be avail­able in the New Jiang­wan Town com­mu­nity in the north­east­ern sub­urb of Shang­hai, a soft­ware park in Pudong dis­trict, as well as the Songjiang Col­lege Town in the western sub­urb.

“It is lo­cated just a few steps away from peo­ple’s homes, and you can ac­cess the latest publi­ca­tions and a lot more,” said Liu Yawen, vice head of the op­er­a­tion cen­ter of East­day Media Co. Ltd. “It’s like the tra­di­tional news­stand, only with more func­tions.”

Peo­ple can stop by the booth to check out latest news broad­casts on a screen, leaf through an as­sort­ment of rec­om­mended books, as well as find what ti­tles are avail­able in the dif­fer­ent public li­braries in the city. Read­ers can also buy dig­i­tal books via the sys­tem — all they need to do is scan a QR code be­fore the con­tent is im­me­di­ately trans­ferred to their dig­i­tal de­vice. Al­ter­na­tively, peo­ple can or­der the print book via the booth and have it de­liv­ered to a box at­tached to the fa­cil­ity.

In ad­di­tion, lifestyle ameni­ties such as self-serv­ing lottery sta­tions, drug stores and lost-and-found sta­tions can be in­te­grated into the booth if needed.

A dig­i­tal­ized li­brary sys­tem was on ex­hi­bi­tion along­side the booth. Lynn Gong, a staff mem­ber with Shang­hai CN Dragon Dig­i­tal Tech­nol­ogy Co. Ltd, said that the sys­tem al­lows li­braries to cre­ate vir­tual copies of rare and pre­cious books — which peo­ple are of­ten not al­lowed to bor­row — and make them more read­ily avail­able to the public.

He noted that the Shang­hai Li­brary is cur­rently in the process of dig­i­tal­iz­ing its book col­lec­tion and that vir­tual li­braries can only grow big­ger as this shift to dig­i­tal stor­age con­tin­ues, say­ing that the only limit is de­ter­mined by the size of a com­puter’s hard disk.

“This is in the­ory, a li­brary with­out a sin­gle printed book,” said Gong, as he il­lus­trated how users could se­lect a dig­i­tal book via the op­tions on a screen. The sys­tem can also dis­play a pub­lisher’s in­for­ma­tion and other rel­e­vant data. “The data­base can ex­pand in­fin­itely. This sys­tem can be used as a com­mu­nity li­brary and users can search us­ing cat­e­gories, au­thor’s names, or genre. It’s just like an ac­tual li­brary, but it’s more con­ve­nient here.”

Rise of the au­dio-books

Chen Xiaoyu, the founder of Xi­malaya.com, be­lieves that read­ing is not just meant for the eyes. Xi­malaya is an In­ter­net au­dio-shar­ing plat­form with more than 6 mil­lion ac­tive users and it an­nounced the ar­rival of its au­dio-books in the Chi­nese mar­ket with an ex­hi­bi­tion space fea­tur­ing a se­ries of head­phones sus­pended from the ceil­ing that visi­tors can wear to lis­ten to var­i­ous pro­grams.

Xi­malaya claimed that au­dio read­ing will soon be­come a part of the mod­ern lifestyle in China, with Chen es­ti­mat­ing that half of the ex­ist­ing read­ers will turn to au­dio books in the next two years. “Au­dio books al­low peo­ple to ‘read’ them while driv­ing, com­mut­ing, cook­ing or do­ing house­hold chores,” she said.

Thou­sands of peo­ple in­clud­ing am­a­teur and pro­fes­sional DJs as well as voice ac­tors, have al­ready up­loaded their voice ren­di­tions of books onto this au­dio shar­ing plat­form, and users are spend­ing an av­er­age of 30 min­utes each time. Xi­malaya said that it is cur­rently work­ing with pub­lish­ers to buy the copy­rights for the au­dio adap­ta­tions of their publi­ca­tions.

“We will lis­ten


the au­di­ences, learn about their needs, and let them take the lead in the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of au­dio read­ing,” Chen said.

Other high­lights

A large num­ber of publi­ca­tions on World War II, es­pe­cially those doc­u­ment­ing China’s fight against the in­vad­ing Ja­panese, were re­leased at the fair this year, which marks the 70th an­niver­sary of the end of World War II. About 200 vet­er­ans from World War II par­tic­i­pated in the book launch of “Jin­lyu Xiongfeng”, which doc­u­mented the New Fourth Army’s ac­tiv­i­ties in the Yangtze River Delta re­gion dur­ing the war.

An of­fi­cial cer­e­mony was held on Au­gust 24 when the Shang­hai Book Com­pany, a sub­sidiary cor­po­ra­tion of the Shang­hai Cen­tury Pub­lish­ing Group, handed more than 2000 his­tor­i­cal jour­nals and publi­ca­tions dat­ing from 1931-1946 to a new mu­seum whose name and ad­dress is yet to be an­nounced. Some of these pre­cious doc­u­ments were ex­hib­ited at the Friend­ship Con­fer­ence Hall dur­ing the book fair.

The Shang­hai Book Fair high­lights a par­tic­u­lar re­gion in China ev­ery year. This year’s fea­tured area was Jiangxi province. Pub­lish­ers from Jiangxi pre­sented their prod­ucts, pay­ing spe­cial at­ten­tion to chil­dren’s books and adap­ta­tions of pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion and film shows.

The In­ter­na­tional Literary Fes­ti­val, an event held on the side­lines of the fair, also drew large crowds as well re­spected au­thors such as En­rique Vi­laMatas from Spain, US-based Gish Jen, Aus­trian nov­el­ist and drama­tist Peter Handke, and Ger­man Si­nol­o­gist Marc Her­mann graced the fes­ti­val.


Visi­tors lis­ten to dif­fer­ent au­dio pro­grams us­ing sus­pended head­phones at the Shang­hai Book Fair.

Staff mem­bers of book pub­lish­ers have turned out in spe­cial cos­tumes for the book fair.

Pen­guin Radom House makes its first in­de­pen­dent ap­pear­ance at the Shang­hai Book Fair this year. Its pre­vi­ous in­volve­ment in the event was via its re­tail­ers.

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