Book ti­tles

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

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.

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