Not just books

The an­nual event sets records for pub­lish­ing deals and gen­er­ates plenty of ex­cite­ment for read­ers with its new-me­dia of­fer­ings. Mei Jia re­ports.

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at mei­jia@chi­nadaily.com.cn ChenMeil­ing con­trib­uted to the story.

The an­nual Bei­jing In­ter­na­tional Book Fair sets records for pub­lish­ing deals and gen­er­ates plenty of ex­cite­ment for read­ers.

Last week, Steve Po­tash, pres­i­dent and CEO of US-based e-book pub­lisher Over­Drive, was thrilled to dis­cover that a South Korean pub­lisher had man­aged to link vir­tual-re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy to e-books.

He said he heard that at a fo­rum at the Bei­jing In­ter­na­tional Book Fair.

Po­tash praised the fair for bring­ing new and ad­vanced think­ing to the global pub­lish­ing busi­ness.

Thirty years af­ter it was founded in 1986, the fair has be­come the world’s sec­ond­largest book fair in scale, and is turn­ing into an in­ter­na­tional read­ing fes­ti­val in­stead of merely a plat­form for copy­right trades, its or­ga­niz­ers say.

“The book fair keeps its ad­van­tages for the pro­fes­sional au­di­ence, and strength­ens its at­trac­tions to gen­eral read­ers with bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence and in­ter­ac­tion,” says Lin Liy­ing, vice-pres­i­dent of China Na­tional Pub­li­ca­tions Im­port & Ex­port (Group) Cor­po­ra­tion, one of the BIBF or­ga­niz­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to the cor­po­ra­tion, dur­ing the fair 3,075 deals were made to sell or co-pub­lish Chi­nese ti­tles with over­seas coun­ter­parts in the global mar­ket, an in­crease of 6.5 per­cent com­pared with 2015. Chi­nese pub­lish­ers bought in 1,943 ti­tles from over­seas pub­lish­ers.

Hosted by both the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Press, Pub­li­ca­tion, Ra­dio, Film and Tele­vi­sion and the Bei­jing mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment, the fair had an ex­hi­bi­tion area that­was19 per­cent larger than that in 2015 for a show­ing of 300,000 ti­tles.

By the time it wrapped up on Sun­day, the fair had at­tracted 2,407 pub­lish­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions from 86 coun­tries and re­gions, and pre­sented some 1,000 events in the cap­i­tal.

Be­sides lit­er­ary sa­lons, pub­lish­ing fo­rums and book re­leases, fair­go­ers got a bite of gourmet cul­ture and tried car­pen­try and other ac­tiv­i­ties at events staged dur­ing the BIBF.

Wu Shangzhi, vice-min­is­ter of the ad­min­is­tra­tion for pub­lish­ing, says: “Global pub­lish­ing is go­ing through an evo­lu­tion. The in­te­grated devel­op­ment of tra­di­tional pub­lish­ing with new me­dia and new tech­nol­ogy-based forms of pub­lish­ing has stood as a ne­ces­sity and in­evitable path.”

“In China, the new forms of pub­lish­ing showed great mo­men­tum in 2015 and right now, even the tra­di­tional pub­lish­ers are in­vest­ing heav­ily in that field,” Wu adds. He says that the coun­try earned 440.39 bil­lion yuan ($65.94 bil­lion) from dig­i­tal pub­lish­ing in 2015, the high­est ever and a year-onyear bump of 30 per­cent.

Wu says pol­icy sup­port and tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment will cre­ate bet­ter in­te­gra­tion, and the “build­ing a coun­try with avid read­ers” strat­egy has boosted read­ing and pub­lish­ing.

Hu­jiang, a Shang­hai-based in­ter­net com­pany for lan­guage learn­ing, signed co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments with three do­mes­tic pub­lish­ing houses for dig­i­tal pub­lish­ing of sev­eral bilin­gual dic­tio­nar­ies.

Chang Zhi­tao, vice-pres­i­dent of Hu­jiang, says: “The fair also pro­vided op­por­tu­ni­ties for us to meet for­eign pub­lish­ing com­pa­nies.”

Mean­while, Be­larus’ first No­bel-win­ning writer, Svet­lana Alex­ievich, who vis­ited the fair, held lit­er­ary talks with Chi­nese writ­ers.

Nine­teen for­eign trans­la­tors, pub­lish­ers and Si­nol­o­gists won the 10th Spe­cial Book Award from Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing Swe­den’s Ce­cilia Lindqvist and Canada’s Pa­tri­cia Al­dana.

Pro­fes­sion­als from home and abroad also ex­plored new prospects of in­te­grated devel­op­ment at the fair’s key­note fo­rum.

Theresa Thomp­son, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of Ster­ling Pub­lish­ing, an arm of Barnes & No­ble, says: “To­day read­ers look for ex­pe­ri­ences. Mul­ti­me­dia pack­ages (to go with books) are trend­ing.”

Thomp­son says she sees a “ro­bust mar­ket for pic­ture books” in the United States and from Barnes & No­ble stores. “Over the last sev­eral years, we have seen phys­i­cal book sales grow more than 3 per­cent, and chil­dren’s cat­e­gories are driv­ing the over­all mar­ket growth.”

The sit­u­a­tion is sim­i­lar in China, and at the BIBF a spe­cial zone was ded­i­cated to pic­ture books.

China’s first Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen Award win­ner, Cao Wenx­uan, told the pub­lish­ers about how he turned child­hood mis­eries into in­spi­ra­tions for his sto­ries, which have light­ened hearts of many more af­ter their trans­la­tion into other lan­guages.

Gao Hongbo, cre­ator of the Bo Bo Fei series, which was pub­lished in mul­ti­ple lan­guages and was made into a TV car­toon for the French au­di­ence, says: “I tell about typ­i­cal Chi­nese sto­ries — sto­ries of a Chi­nese kid through Bo Bo Fei, the piglet, so that the read­ers have a sense of what’s go­ing on in the coun­try.”

Such writ­ers brought a big­ger spot­light on orig­i­nal Chi­nese ti­tles. Ac­cord­ing to Wu, in 2003, China sold one ti­tle to the global mar­ket for ev­ery 8.2 ti­tles it bought; in 2015, it was one to 1.6, strik­ing a sharply bet­ter bal­ance.

To­day read­ers look for ex­pe­ri­ences. Mul­ti­me­dia pack­ages (to go with books) are trend­ing.” Theresa Thomp­son, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of Ster­ling Pub­lish­ing

PHO­TOS BY ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

A wide range of ac­tiv­i­ties at the Bei­jing In­ter­na­tional Book Fair drew the at­ten­tion of young vis­i­tors. The an­nual fair, launched in 1986, has now grown into one of the world’s big­gest book events.

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