By STEVEN WINDUO
THE 23rd Beijing International Book Fair was the first book fair I attended as a writer, editor, and publisher. I was part of the UPNG Press and Bookshop team that attended the fair in the capital of the People’s Republic of China. The event was staged at the China International Exhibition Center in Beijing.
The Beijing International Book Fair is an annual event that brings together publishers, books distributors, and writers from China and beyond. Major publishers in Europe, Britain, USA and Australia were represented. It combined book launches, agreement signings, writers’ discussion, and many other activities centering around books and publishing.
The Beijing International Book Fair was incorporated in 1986 and over three decades has been adhering to its mission of “introducing excellent books from around the world into China and leading Chinese books to the world.” The growth and development of the international and domestic publishing industry is evidenced at the exhibition. The Beijing International Book Fair has become the largest international book display in Asia and ranked among the world’s four international book fairs.
Our attendance was at the invitation of the Chinese government. We valued the opportunity to develop co-operation with colleagues in China. It was appropriate we participated in the Beijing International Book Fair as the industry itself is fully developed in that country.
The Beijing International Book Fair promotes international publishing and cultural exchange and promotes nationwide reading and serves its growing needs of reading materials.
Some of the highlights of the Beijing International Book Fair include the following:
First, there is evidence of continuous internationalization in the Fair. The number of participating countries and regions grew by four compared to last year. About 35 countries participated in the Fair. Over 100 branded publishing enterprises were new to the Fair in addition to number of international exhibitors reaching close to 1,379, accounting for 57% of all exhibitions.
Second, there is evidence of increase in professional level. Professional exhibitions, seminars, and professional co-operations were signed. During the book fair the focus was on traditional publishing and digital publishing, as well as on presentations of the Achievement Exhibition of National Publication Fund for the first time and a program on the Hall of International Children’s Literature. Small and medium exhibitions were also represented to bring together children’s publishers and ASEAN publishers.
Third, there were evidences of the growth of the publishing industry in China. During the 2016 Beijing International Book Fair the focus was on traditional publishing and digital publishing products. The event focused on the whole publishing and cultural industry chain, including content production, copyright trade, copyright IP, and content development of books.
The China National Publications Import & Export (Group) Corporation (CNPIEC) is responsible for organizing the Beijing Book Fair. The CNPIEC is a large state-owned culture enterprise founded in 1949, the same year as the founding of the People’s Republic of China. In April 2002 it was incorporated into China Publishing Group Corporation as a member company. The CNPIEC passed ISO9001 quality management system certification in 2008. CNPIEC has become the largest and most competitive import and export enterprise of the Chinese publishing industry with total assets of 5.2 billion Yuan (K2.43b), operating revenue of 4.3 billion Yuan (K2b), and 45 branches in China and overseas.
Committed itself to international operations of the Chinese publishing industry, CNPIEC set up its first branch in early 1980s, it has 26 overseas outlets, including companies and offices in USA, Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Australia, Russia and Hong Kong. The CNPIEC has six brand companies, publishing houses, 12 book stores and distribution companies, which formed the largest transnational sales network including import, export, publishing and distributions in the Chinese publishing industry.
I had a great time at the Beijing International Book Fair. The UPNG Press and Bookshop was given exhibition space, which provided for us to show case our publications. Being part of the exhibition gave us the space to promote PNG books in China which attracted great interest from other international participants.
The highlight for the UPNG Press and Bookshop team was the signing of an MOU between the Beijing Normal University Press and the UPNG Press and Bookshop to work together in promoting book publishing between the two university presses. The signing took place at the Beijing Normal University Press Exhibition space. Li Yanhui, Editor in Chief of the Beijing Normal University Press signed on-behalf of her organization and Joe Palimi signed on behalf of the UPNG Press and Bookshop.
Without the help of Shirley X. Xie, Director for Copyrights and International Co-operations Department our trip to China would not have been successful. Xie was supported by her staff, including Jie Liu and others who went out of their way to make us enjoy our time in China.
The Beijing Normal University has been involved with the Book Fair for many years. This international cooperation is the ideal platform to organize a Book Fair in PNG as part of the APEC meeting activities. It will be nice to have an international book fair in PNG.
I used the opportunity to talk to a few book publishers and printers. I was pleased to have found a printing company who can print quality books and magazines at the lowest cost. The high cost of printing quality books in PNG is discouraging and not attractive to the publishing industry in the country.
In PNG the industry can only begin and develop if there is government support and funding for it to grow. Right now the publishing industry in PNG is too narrow in scope and remains undeveloped.
The challenges we face as writers and publishers prevent us from fully appreciating the publishing industry itself. Some form of intervention is needed to see the development of a vibrant publishing industry in PNG.
Our friends in Beijing Normal University Press truly made every day we were in Beijing a special experience to cherish for many years to come.
By STEVEN WINDUO