Beijing book fair focuses on children and digital

News - Festivals Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Next week's Fair, the largest in Asia, sees new children's event and expanded digital zone; British publishers now largest foreign contingent

The 25th Beijing International Book Fair, which takes place 22-6 August, is launching a new Digital Zone to showcase the integration of emerging digital technologies with traditional publishing.

International companies specialising in new media, artificial intelligence, knowledge service and content production will be among the Digital Zone exhibitors in the 97,700 sq m fair, with Amazon Web Services, Baidu Read, iReader, Tencent and DangDang among the names announced so far.

Demand for stands from exhibitors in the Digital Zone has exceeded BIBF’s expectations according to Liying Lin, vice president of China National Publications Import and Export (Group) Corporation. "We have increased substantially the amount of space that we originally allocated to the Digital Zone," she said. "Exhibitor demand reflects the dynamism of digital publishing and the ever-growing consumer popularity of mobile online reading in China. The innovative application of big data in the publishing industry will be a hot topic this year, and we are exploring this and many other subjects through high-end workshops with representatives of cutting-edge digital publishers, institutions and experts."

Big data and artificial intelligence will also be explored at the 2018 Beijing Publishing Summit, the international publishing annual conference that takes place at the Beijing International Book Fair on 21 August. Speakers include Wu Shulin, deputy director general of the Publishers Association of China; Michael Mabe, ceo of the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers and Rachel Matus, Amazon Web Services sales manager, Publishing.

Online and mobile reading continues to be immensely popular in China with the combined income from online reading, digital newspapers and online periodicals now at an all-time high of 6.2 billion Yuan. More than 68% of Chinese readers now say they read in digital format.

This year’s fair is bigger than ever with eight halls covering 97,700 sq metres. More than 2,500 publishers, representing 93 countries and regions, are expected to exhibit and the overwhelming majority of the world’s top publishing companies will be present.

For the first time, the UK is the biggest country represented in terms of floor space at BIBF, covering 738 square metres and overtaking that of Japan and Korea, usually the largest two contingents. UK exhibitors range from Pan Macmillan and Harper Collins to Kogan Page, Nosy Crow and Phaidon Press.

Also for the first time, BIBF will feature a 14,100 sq m area dedicated to children’s titles and licensing, focussing on children's book rights trading, animated comics, IP licensing, education, digital and other complementary areas. This separate exhibition - Beijing International Children’s Book Fair - will cover the whole industrial chain, bringing together IP owners, agents, consumer goods manufacturers, other licensed companies and retailers.

According to the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA), China is now the fifth largest licensed market in the world and is still growing rapidly, particularly for children's content.

First-time exhibitors will include Walker Books, Book H and Imagine That, while Insight Editions and Dorling Kindersley are among those sponsoring the BIBF children’s picture book exhibition.

An expanded Food and Wine Gallery will reflect another major social trend in China today; the popularity of home cooking. China is the biggest buyer in the world of foreign food and wine books in translation, and demand is rising fast for new titles, particularly amongst the younger generation who perceive western cookery as easier and quicker than traditional Chinese cooking.

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