were showcased at this year's
China Shanghai Children’s Book Fair
countries to boost international copyright trading and cultural exchange.
Director of the group Li Xueqian also suggested that there could be a joint booth to represent this partnership at major international book fairs such as the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Authors, editors and publishers have agreed that now is the golden age for children’s publications in China.
“Never before have we seen so many publishing houses print so many books for children in China within one year. Never before have the government and NGOs given so much attention to children’s books, and authors who used to write for grownups are now more enthusiastic about creating content for young readers,” said Liang Yan, an editor of children’s literature.
The phenomenon has boosted industry confidence and encouraged publishers to invest more money and efforts to improve the quality of their products, something that many parents had deemed to be lacking. This was largely due to publishers being reluctant to take on the risk of introducing new titles to the market while cutting design costs for the new editions of classical tales.
However, one hurdle that publishers have to get past before they can meet the demand for quality products is the bad reputation they have earned themselves. A book artist, whose pen name is Zaozi, claimed that design and layout issues as well as dishonest practices have marred the relationship between artists and publishers.
“Sometimes the book design is so bad, I don’t even want to let people know that I did the illustrations,” said Zaozi, who participated in the illustration competition during the fair.
“On other occasions, publishers steal artists’ creations. There were times when we found out that our work was published only because our friends happened to come across the book. And of course, you aren’t paid for it,” said Zaozi.
As a result, a large number of independent illustrators in China once turned away from publishers, opting instead to produce their own picture books to sell online. This created a legal gray zone because these publications did not have the state-issued ISBN ( international standard book number), which meant that they could not be sold legitimately as published books in China.
The practice, however, did start a new trend where artists would take the initiative rather than the publishers. Zhao Yufei, a 25-year-old illustrator, is one such artist. She is currently working closely with Utop Media, a production company which will print her debut publication and acquire the ISBN through collaboration with a state-owned publisher.
Titled 1301 Planets, Zhao’s book is about the story of an astronaut who travels throughout the galaxy and visits 1301 planets before returning to tell his daughter about his adventures.