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Lifestyle
Carnival of Books
Book fairs showcase new trends in the publishing industry
By Ji Jing | NO. 36 SEPTEMBER 6, 2018

The signing ceremony of the copyright licensing agreement for Classics in Rhythm and Rhyme: The Beauty of Chinese Poetry, at the BIBF on August 22 (COURTESY PHOTO) 

At the 25th Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF), a copyright export signing ceremony took place on August 22, where it was agreed that the book Classics in Rhythm and Rhyme for Children would be translated into seven languages.

The New World Press (NWP), a subsidiary of China International Publishing Group (CIPG), and People's Literature Publishing House (PLPH) cohosted the event, where NWP signed contracts with publishing houses in Russia, South Korea, India, Poland and Albania.

The book will have a new title, Classics in Rhythm and Rhyme: The Beauty of Chinese Poetry, after being translated into Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Korean, Hindi, Polish and Albanian.

Published by PLPH in May, the book incorporates 30 poems from a China Central Television show that aired from February to April, which invited primarily famous singers and actors to sing ancient poems in the form of popular music. Another 10 poems not included in the show were added to the book along with explanations.

New technology is also employed, as readers can scan a QR code in the book to listen to recordings of popular song versions of the poems as well as the poems read in standard Chinese. Moreover, augmented reality technology is used so that readers can watch clips of the show by scanning photos in the book.

Going global

Zang Yongqing, President of PLPH, said that selling the copyright to Classics in Rhythm and Rhyme for Children overseas marks a successful attempt at collaboration between NWP and PLPH. He said that in the future he hopes that the two publishing houses can work together to promote the release of more titles in the Classics in Rhythm and Rhyme series abroad in order to spread traditional Chinese culture.

Thanks to NWP's overseas cooperative partnerships built over the years, it managed to sell the copyright to the translation of the book into seven foreign languages in one month, according to NWP President Li Chunkai.

The project is only one example of CIPG's efforts toward internationalization. The media giant presented over 2,000 book titles in more than 40 languages at this year's BIBF which ran from August 22 to 26. The books on display covered a wide range of topics including Chinese leaders' works, literature, traditional culture and China's reform and opening-up achievements.

Another CIPG subsidiary, the Foreign Languages Press (FLP), signed contracts with publishing houses from six countries, namely, Spain, Albania, Sri Lanka, India, Singapore and Poland, to publish some installments of the Understanding China series.

Published by the FLP and written by renowned scholars from both China and abroad, the Understanding China series focuses on China's ongoing historical transformation and national rejuvenation and explains the secret behind China's social and economic progress.

In addition to CIPG, a number of other publishing houses also eyed internationalization at the book fair. For instance, the Commercial Press sold the copyright to its Xinhua Dictionary to Georgia.

The BIBF has become one of the three largest copyright trading platforms along with the Frankfurt Book Fair and the London Book Fair.

This year's BIBF attracted the participation of 93 countries and regions, with Panama, Venezuela, Kyrgyzstan and Lebanon taking part in the event for the first time. Over 2,500 publishing houses participated in the fair, with 1,520 from overseas, accounting for 60.2 percent of the total.

A number of renowned international publishing houses such as Penguin Random House, The McGraw-Hill Companies and Oxford University Press were present at the event. UK publishers had a large presence at the event, with 56 occupying an area of 850 square meters, making it the largest British delegation in BIBF history.

The China International Publishing Group exhibition booth at the Beijing International Book Fair on August 22 (COURTESY PHOTO)

Innovation and books

This year's fair also featured the integration of the traditional publishing industry with new technology.

For example, the Encyclopedia of China Publishing House had an exhibition titled The Grand Canal that Flowed Through Time, using digital images and animation to display the Tongzhou (southeast Beijing) section of the Grand Canal during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) on a three-meter high and 25-meter long LED screen. In addition, the publishing house will release a book on the topic in over 10 countries in August 2019 to present the iconic Grand Canal abroad.

The canal is the world's longest artificial waterway and runs 1,797 km from Beijing to Hangzhou in east China's Zhejiang Province. The section displayed at the fair was Beijing's sub-administrative center of today.

In other parts of China the publishing industry also took center stage. The 15th Shanghai Book Fair took place from August 15 to 21 and launched a larger number of new books than in any other year.

Xu Jiong, Director of the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Press and Publications, said many of the new books reflect the themes of the times and deal with hot topics, satisfying readers' needs. For example, a book about the chip industry sold over 1,000 copies after its launch at the fair.

The organizers of this year's event also made use of district libraries, brick-and-mortar bookstores and small libraries in rural areas in 16 districts of Shanghai to carry out sub-sessions in order to reach more readers. In addition, the number of venues selected this year increased from 40 last year to 100.

Another highlight of the book fair was Shanghai International Literary Week held concurrently with the fair. Under the theme of The Meaning of Travel, the fair attracted over 20 famous writers, poets and scholars for in-depth discussions about the significance of travel in contemporary society. Nearly 40 literary exchanges, including international forums and a poetry night, added to the cultural atmosphere of the international metropolis.

Prior to the book fairs in Shanghai and Beijing, the 28th National Book Expo was held in Shenzhen, another first-tier city in south China's Guangdong Province, from July 19 to 22. It was the third city to hold the expo twice after Beijing and Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Held at the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center and five subcenters in Luohu, Futian, Nanshan, Baoan and Longgang districts, the event attracted over 450,000 enthusiasts and had a sales volume of 81.12 million yuan ($11.9 million).

One important feature of the expo was innovation, where Shenzhen's first 24-hour intelligent bookstore was unveiled. At the 15-square-meter store, which combines the sale of books with cultural and creative products, customers are able to place an order and pay online.

A number of books about Shenzhen were launched at the expo, including the first five installments of the Our Shenzhen series published by Shenzhen Press Group. The series deals with Shenzhen's history, culture and geography since the beginning of reform and opening up. A History of Shenzhen, published by local Haitian Publishing House, which chronicles the 7,000-year history of the area, was also released at the expo.

Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo

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