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Printed publications, cultural products from local museums, and AR and VR technology take center stage at recent fair

A worker at the Russian booth shows off one of his country's offerings during the recent 24th Beijing International Book Fair. 

Over 300,000 newly published books from around the world, including 28 countries and regions along the Belt and Road route were on display at the 24th Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF), which was held at the China International Exhibition Center in Shunyi district from August 23 to 27. There fair was spread across eight booths and hosted thousands of exhibitors and book lovers.

BIBF is actually a copyright fair for international books. Publishing institutes and presses from all over the world showcase their books and trade copyright at the event.

More than 2,500 exhibitors from 89 countries and regions took part in the fair, with overseas exhibitors accounting for 58 percent.

Oman, Azerbaijan and Ukraine sent representatives to the BIBF for the first time this year. The Australian Publishers Association and more than 100 publishers from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Spain also attended the event for the first time. Both the exhibition and the scale of countries along the Belt and Road route have been increasing. A total of 28 Belt and Road countries, including Poland, Indonesia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Croatia attended the BIBF.

Around 40,000 books from over 300 major Chinese publishers were on display for overseas publishers and libraries. The number of copyright trade agreements signed between Chinese and foreign companies exceeded 4,000 each year in 2015 and 2016.

Since 2014, copyright trade between China and countries along the Belt and Road routes has maintained a high average annual growth of 20 percent, accounting for 15 percent of China's total copyright trade in 2016, up from 5 percent in 2014.

Chinese women and kids read books at one of the booths at the book fair Photo: IC

Iran through books

Iran was the guest of honor at this year's fair. More than 100 Iranian publishers, writers, illustrators and artists attended the book fair, bringing over 2,000 books to Chinese readers. During the exhibition, an event themed Colorful dreams on the Silk Road was launched. A series of summits, forums, book talks, illustrator and folk culture performances took place at the Iranian booth, which was decorated with traditional Iranian elements and colored glaze tiles, and covered about 500 square meters. Two curved walls shaped like a silk ribbon symbolized the Silk Road theme.

In addition to Iranian books, Iranian cartoons and artworks were also presented. Some calligraphers, sculptors and carpet makers gave live performances. Muslim Chinese craftsmen also performed at the Iranian booth. Their works were also for sale.

A new book launch of the Chinese translated version of Book of Kings was held at the Iranian booth. According to an Iranian at the booth, the book was written by Persian poet Ferdowsi (940-1020) and is the origin of Iran's mother tongue -- Persian.

"I hope every Chinese reader visiting our booth can spend some time to get to know this book," she said.

The Iranian exhibition zone also featured musical performances and recitation of classic Iranian and Chinese literature in Persian, English and Chinese. Well-known Chinese writers, including Nobel laureate Mo Yan, also interacted with readers at the event.

Iran has invited China to be the guest of honor at the 2019 Tehran International Book Fair in Iran.

Russia an important part

The Russian booth also attracted many visitors. The Russian book exhibits mainly included novels, books from the humanities and social sciences, works from the Russian Institute of Translation, and books published by Eksmo Press and the Moscow municipal government.

There was also a translation and publication project involving Chinese and Russian classical literature. The Analects of Confucius, The Travels of Lao Ts'an and Ba Jin's Trilogy were translated into Russian and published in Russia.

Natalya Mikhailova, an academic at the Russian Academy of Sciences and senior consultant at the Pushkin Museum, gave a detailed introduction to books related to Russian poet Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin, including Pushkin and Moscow, Pushkin from Moscow to Erzurum and Pushkin's dinner with his protagonists.

The head of the Russian delegation said she hoped the event would deepen the cultural communication between China and Russia and that the two sides could cooperate to publish more translated works in the future.

According to the Russian workers at the fair, Chinese publishers are most interested in Russia's children's literature and books on Russian art, history and politics.

A number of Russian books were launched during the exhibition, including books on zoology, a dictionary of railway terms and books commemorating the 100th anniversary of Russia's February Revolution and October Revolution. Round tables on Chinese and Russian ancient classic and contemporary literature translation projects and a seminar on the Book of Changes and Tao Teh King were also held.

An international book feast

Other foreign booths brought many original books to Chinese readers. Penguin Random House, HarperCollins Publishers, Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press all attended the book fair. Japanese publishers were also present, and there was a special area for an exhibition of the drafts of Osamu Tezuka, the famous comics artist. South Korean publishers showcased many popular comics and novels.

International picture books were also on exhibition. Picture books from many foreign countries including France, Italy, Russia, Japan and Arabian countries were also on display. Many of them were awarded works with many honors, including the US Caldecott Medal, the Deutscher Bilderbuchpreis from Germany, the Kate Greenaway Medal from the UK, and Italy's Bologna Ragazzi Award. This year's picture book theme was the castle of the princess. Many classic fairy tale princesses were made into posters, like Princess Sofia, Snow White and Rapunzel and showcased at the event. Children took photos with the princesses.

There were also many toy books. The publishers made books in the shape of a doll and used luminescent materials to make books. Parents and kids could experience a three-dimensional book at the fair. Many children, both Chinese and foreign, were attracted to the picture books exhibition. Many of them sat up or lay on their stomach to read the books.

There were also parenting lectures on children language learning, and many parents took part in the activities.

Creative products available

A special exhibition hall was set up to showcase cultural and creative products. This year 40 exhibitors brought their unique products to the fair, including many local museums from all over the country.

Among the museum stalls, the Palace Museum's booth was the most popular, many attendees gathered there to buy products like paper fans and embroidered bags.

It was the first time that Jiangxi Province Museum's creative products themed Haihunhou Tomb in Han Dynasty (206BC-AD220) were exhibited in Beijing. The museum sold many duplicates of the creeping dichondra unearthed in the tomb. Another hot sale product were jade pendants, which were made after the jade animal excavated from the tomb. According to Jiangxi booth workers, about 20,000 to 30,000 products sold daily in their museum.

This year's book fair also adopted augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology. Attendees could watch a play on the stage with VR glasses. The VR technology replicated the actors' images and had various visual effects. Guests could also wear VR glasses to play a game of "going back to the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC)."

A woman experiences VR equipment. Photo: IC

Chinese books "going out"

To further boost the government's Go Out policy, the fair displayed over 15,000 kinds of books from more than 300 publishers in China. Many of the books had detailed English introductions on the cover so that overseas publishers and libraries could choose the books they liked best to buy their copyright and introduce in their countries. Over the past two years, there have been more than 4,000 copyright deals done at the fair.

Many large publishers in China have created a special section for Road and Belt books, which is a shining point of China's publishing industry. According to the fair's staff, since 2014, the trade volume of copyrights between China and Belt and Road countries have increased with a rise of about 20 percent per year. The trade volume made up 15 percent of China-foreign copyright trade, rising from 5 percent in 2014. In 2016, there were about 5,000 copyright trades between China and the Belt and Road countries.

Newspaper headline: Hooked on books

Photo: IC


Source: Global Times.