Prof­its over­shadow sup­port for lo­cal chil­dren’s books 300

China Daily (USA) - - SHANGHAI - ByZHANGKUN in Shang­hai zhangkun@chi­nadaily. com.cn

De­spite the rapid growth of chil­dren’s books in China, lo­cal pub­lish­ers have been re­leas­ing fewer ti­tles in re­cent years, ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics re­leased dur­ing the third China Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Chil­dren’s Book Fair.

Yang Lei, vice pres­i­dent of Bei­jing-based Open Book, a com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in data anal­y­sis of pub­lish­ing in­dus­tries, said that this is due to the fact that Chi­nese pub­lish­ers of chil­dren’s books are more in­clined to buy copy­rights to over­seas books in­stead as this al­lows them to net big­ger prof­its.

“It is eas­ier to pub­lish for­eign books which have al­ready proven to be pop­u­lar with read­ers, rather than in­tro­duce new orig­i­nal cre­ations,” said Yang.

Roger Mello, a Brazil­ian artist and writer who served as a jury mem­ber at the 2016 Chen Bochui In­ter­na­tional Chil­dren’s Lit­er­a­ture Award, said that this phe­nom­e­non has lit­tle to do with the qual­ity of books pro­duced in China. He noted that Chi­nese artists have ac­tu­ally been cre­at­ing many good books for chil­dren and was espe­cially im­pressed with The Plaits, a book au­thored and il­lus­trated by artist Hei Mi.

Mello praised the artist’s use of tra­di­tional Chi­nese tech­niques “in a most con­tem­po­rary way” to tell a strong story. Hei was one of the five win­ners of the Chen Bochui award in the pic­ture book cat­e­gory. The jury had also agreed that the qual­ity of the il­lus­tra­tions and the depth of themes in orig­i­nal Chi­nese pic­ture books have im­proved con­sid­er­ably this year.

For China’s artists to be­come suc­cess­ful on the in­ter­na­tional stage, they would first have to earn recog­ni­tion at home, Mello said. Dang­dang.com, a Pub­lish­ers and cre­ative in­sti­tu­tions par­tic­i­pated in this year's Chil­dren's Book Fair lead­ing book com­pany that com­mands a 35 per­cent share of the book re­tail mar­ket in China, is one of those that have been work­ing hard to pro­mote orig­i­nal Chi­nese chil­dren’s books.

“We have started the Dang­dang Most Beloved Au­thors Prize and are sav­ing our most prom­i­nent pro­mo­tional spots for orig­i­nal Chi­nese pic­ture books,” said Chen Li­jun, vice pres­i­dent of Dang­dang.com.

“As a re­spon­si­ble so­cial cor­po­ra­tion, we be­lieve it is our job to pro­mote our own cul­ture. It is im­por­tant for Chi­nese chil­dren to grow up read­ing about our own tra­di­tions and cre­ations,” added Chen.

An in­creas­ing num­ber of Chi­nese au­thors are also be­ing in­vited to in­ter­na­tional book fairs and events. Hei, for ex­am­ple, was also the win­ner of the Golden Ap­ple Prix at the Bi­en­nial of Il­lus­tra­tion Bratislava last year, a pres­ti­gious award for chil­dren’s books in the world.

Since its in­cep­tion in 2013, the book fair has been the only one of its kind in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion. This year, the fair took place from Nov 18 to 20 at the Shang­hai World Expo Ex­hi­bi­tion and Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. More than 300 pub­lish­ers and cre­ative in­sti­tu­tions re­lated to chil­dren de­vel­op­ment, half of which were from over­seas, came to­gether and show­cased 60,000 new ti­tles.

The fair also grew in size this year, at­tract­ing 42,000 par­ents and chil­dren, and 9,500 pro­fes­sional vis­i­tors. Be­sides in­tro­duc­ing new books to par­ents and chil­dren, the fair also serves as a ma­jor plat­form for copy­right trade.

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