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‘BEST-EVER’ BEIJING INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR SCORES ‘A WORLD FIRST’

This year’s Beijing International Book Fair is described by organisers CNPIEC as ‘the biggest and best yet’, showing healthy growth that reflects the continued buoyancy of the book market in China. With technology playing an increasing role in publishing, BIBF hosted a series of performances with top name authors, musicians and an astronaut to demonstrate the potential of 5G in a world-first at international book fairs..

 

The Fair covered 106,800 sqm  of China’s International Exhibition Centre, and hosted more than 2,600 exhibitors and 320,000 visitors for five days from August 21st.  More than half of exhibitors – 1,600 – were drawn from overseas, representing 95 regions and countries.  These included two newcomers, Portugal and Kazakhstan, as well as countries expanding their presence at the Fair.  Some 45 overseas exhibitors including the USA’s DC Comics were also new to BIBF this year.  

 

Final figures from the Fair organisers put the number of partnership deals agreed at 5,996, up 5.6% on last year.  Of these, 3,840 were export or co-publishing deals /MOUs (up 6.4%) and 2,156 were import deals  (up 4.3%).

 

BIBF hosts world-first 5G demonstration at BIBF 

 

While children’s books and digital publishing dominated BIBF once more, the biggest story of the Fair was BIBF’s partnership with China Telecom, the first time it has been demonstrated at a publishing trade fair.   BIBF’s special 5G+ Reading Zone showed how faster, high quality internet speed can open up new opportunities for publishers, writers and readers.

 

BIBF hosted interactive demonstrations of the new technology throughout the Fair.  A series of performances and author events took place to show how 5G, combined with augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality, makes it possible for authors to communicate with their readers in new ways.  In future, readers can take part in book launches, for example, by watching projected images of authors.

 

Award-winning novelist and screenwriter Liu Zhenyun interviewed China’s first female astronaut Wang Yaping on Saturday 24th August, with a life-like image of her appearing next to him on stage before an audience whilst she was elsewhere in the Fair. 

 

Earlier in the Fair, in a special collaboration with the China National Performance Arts Centre, performances by renowned pianist Yundi Li and other well-known singers and musicians were organised to show how music and text can be intertwined seamlessly to create impressive visual and audio effects.

 

“We are thrilled to be the first publishing trade fair in the world to have the chance to demonstrate 5G’s capabilities,” said Liying Lin, vice president of CNPIEC and fair director. “5G’s increased speed, quantity and quality of transmission brings unrivalled opportunities to readers, publishers and the whole industry chain,” she said.

 

Growing appetite for edutech, children’s learning and cross-media products

 

Exhibitors with books and content that is fun, interactive and encourages parent-child interaction attracted the most attention in the children’s sector, while pre-school and early years content used for online and digital home-learning was also popular.

 

Several noteworthy big names from the new generation of edutech and e-learning products took part, illustrating the convergence of publishing, entertainment, AI and digital technologies.  First time exhibitors included VIPKID a Chinese education start-up and one of the world’s biggest online education companies, who are targeting the new generation of parents keen to support their children’s education.

 

Online platform Jiliguala, who have recently signed a deal with the Walt Disney Company to develop and provide English reading courses based on Disney cartoons, also exhibited.

 

Interactive devices on show included Luka Hero, a smart owl-shaped robot device that can read picture books to children, from AI start-up Ling Technologies.  A combination of cameras and artificial intelligence means the device can follow the words a child points to on the page – and even use the parent’s voice to read.  

 

“BIBF is the ideal opportunity to learn about the latest trends in publishing in China, with our busy professional programme supplementing exhibitor activity.  Whether visitors are interested in cross-media collaboration, paid-for content or how to use social media commerce, the Fair provided plenty of opportunities to see examples of best practice and explore commercial prospects,” said Liying Lin.


She continued: “this sector of paid-for digital and online providers is growing fast and looking for content from Western suppliers, particularly in pre-school and early years education”.


Winners announced for translation and illustration awards


As well as exhibitor activity in the main halls, the Fair hosted two award ceremonies:  the 13th Special Book Award of China, which recognises eminent writers, translators and publishers from around the world, and the BIBF Ananas International Illustration Awards, made to young illustrators. 


13th Special Book Award of China 


Translators from Australia, Canada and Russia were among the winners of the Special Book Award of China, which is the highest honour given to international publishing professionals who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of Chinese literature and culture overseas.  The award was established in 2005, and has been presented 12 times so far. Over the past years, 123 winners from 49 countries and regions have received the accolade.  This year’s awards were made to:

 

• Bonnie Suzanne McDougall from Australia, Laureate Professor of the University of Sydney and translator who has been instrumental in developing young Chinese translators overseas as well as the publication of such books as Letters Between Two: Correspondence Between Lu Xun and Xu Guangping.
• Daniel Bell from Canada, who has pursued an academic career at Shandong University as well as producing monographs about Confucius culture and Chinese politics including The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy.
• Yuri Tavrovskiy from Russia, a writer known for his in-depth study of Chinese history and his recent book, Xi Jinping: Governance Thought in Shape, the first book published in Russia about President Xi Jinping.
• Ioan Budura from Romania, a translator who has long been engaged in the promotion of Chinese books and who translated two volumes of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China.
• Fabian Lebenglik from Argentina, president of Adriana Hidalgo Editora who has contributed to the promotion of Chinese literature in the Spanish speaking world.
• Sotiris Chalikias from Greece, translator of texts such as The Analects of Confucius and The Mencius, and acclaimed for his study and translation of classical Chinese philosophy and literature.
• András Sándor Kocsis from Hungary, publisher of dozens of classics of Chinese philosophy, language and reference books, including The Hungary Chinese and Chinese Hungary Dictionary.
• Abbas Kdaimy from Iraq, translator and editor who has worked at the Xinhua News Agency, CRI and CIPG in China, and is responsible for the translation of the first volume of Xi Jinping: Governance of China into Arabic.
• Yuri Pines from Israel, a writer, professor and well-known researcher in the study of traditional Chinese political thoughts and culture.  His titles include Envisioning Eternal Empire: Chinese Political Thought Of The Warring States Era.
• Seken Aday from Kazakhstan, translator and professor known for his promotion of works by scholars of famous Chinese social scientists, such as China’s Leadership in Global Governance.
• Hong Jungsun from Korea, professor and publisher of a number of books on traditional Chinese culture and contemporary literature, whose works include Chinese Modern Literature and Modernisation.
• Leopold Moravcik from Slovakia, a writer and reporter who has created a number of books about China including China on the Long March.

 

Awards were also made to three young translators and publishers: Yara El Masri from Egypt, Stefan Christ from Germany and Kiran Gautam from Nepal.

 

BIBF Ananas International Illustrations Awards 2019

 

Young illustrators from China, France, the UK, the USA, Russia, Vietnam and Poland were among the winners at this year’s BIBF Ananas International Illustrations Awards, now in their second year.  The awards were made in conjunction with a major exhibition of works submitted for consideration.

 

This year’s Ananas Grand Prix was won by Liu Jing from China for her book The Ship.

 

Five young illustrators won the 2019 New Talent Prize: 

 

• Sally Deng, a US illustrator, for her children’s book Skyward: The Story Of Female Pilots In WW2, published by the UK’s Flying Eye Books
• Suzy Vergez, from France for The Little Fisherman Who Didn’t Want More
• Thanh Vu Nguyen from Vietnam for The Boy and The Toad
• Huachao Wu from China for Bird and Statue
• Xinran Huang from China for Mr Popper’s Penguins

Three illustrators won the 2019 Grand Jury Prize:

• Dominika Czerniak-Chojnacka, from Poland for Finding a Prince
• Victoria Semykina from Russia for The Real Boat
• Fan Zhang from China for Subway

 

Prize money of RMB 10,000 was awarded to Liu Jing.

 

This year more than 1,060 series of works were submitted and 60 chosen for display and inclusion in a special annual publication.  

 

The exhibition accompanying the BIBF Ananas International Illustration Awards was held concurrently with the Fair, showing dozens of titles submitted for consideration, in a dedicated 400 square meters space.  The exhibition also hosted meetings and other professional activities to create opportunities for illustrators and publishing professionals to get together.


 
According to Liying Lin, the awards present an unrivalled opportunity for young illustrators: “If you want to attract attention from publishers, then the Ananas Awards provide exposure on an internationally recognised platform.”

 

“Many of our past winners attracted a great deal of interest from the industry and media when they won, and they have since gone on to co-operate with major international publishers.  We are pleased to know that we have contributed to their international careers in this way.”

 

BIBF hosted Romania as Country of Honour 2019 

 

In honour of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between The People’s Republic of China and Romania, BIBF invited Romania to be this year’s country of honour.  More than 20 publishers presented their poetry and literature at the Fair to create awareness of the richness of the Romanian culture amongst visitors.

 

Full professional programme

 

A record number of 175,000 publishing professionals (up 16.7%) attended the Fair and the BIBF busy schedule of professional events, ranging from the one-day Beijing International Publishing Forum to a 2-day intensive induction programme for new exhibitors.  The ‘first steps in publishing’ programme involved presentations from all the major Chinese publishers and visits to bookshops, designed to provide insight and understanding of the market in the short time available. 


Other Fair activities included mini-exhibitions, lectures, seminars, salons and book launches with a total of 1,186 cultural events.  More than 320,000 visitors attended over the five-day period.