Beijing International Book Fair hosts over 2,000 global exhibitors
Online literature hall included at event for first time
Published: Jun 18, 2023 11:16 PM
2023 Beijing International Book Fair Photo: VCG

2023 Beijing International Book Fair Photo: VCG

The 29th Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF), one of Asia's most international book fairs, closed Sunday in Beijing. With a total of 2,500 exhibitors from around the world, the 2023 fair continued its mission to promote China's position in the global publishing industry. 

The 2023 BIBF hosted exhibitors both on-site and online. A total of 1,500 exhibitors set up their booths and shelves at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, where more than 200,000 books were on display, Li Xu, a staff member, told the Global Times. 

An online literature publication exhibition hall has been added to the BIBF for the first time to show China's digital creative power and how it is spreading overseas. The hall focused on topics such as "copyright protection" and "IP creativity" to reveal the achievements of Chinese online literature overseas. 

Taking China Literature Limited (CLL), the field's leading publisher, as an example, it has sold the rights to more than 900 digital and paper books to global publishers. On WebNovel, CLL's overseas platform, 2,900 Chinese works have been translated into foreign languages such as French, English and Thai, to cater to global readers. 

Hou Xiaonan, CLL's CEO, told the Global Times that online literature is a "dynamic channel for cross-cultural communication" and China as the industry's leader has the power to gather worldwide creators, users and industry partners. 

Among the numerous domestic participants, publishers such as Beijing Yanshan Press brought the historical culture of Beijing's hutong, or traditional alleyways, to Southeast Asia through a book published in Indonesian. 

Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Yanshan Press

Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Yanshan Press

The project was co-facilitated by Indonesian publisher PT. Legacy Utama Kreasindo. Huang Yongjun, the publisher's representative, told the Global Times that the book is "widely popular" among Indonesian readers. 

Attracted by the country's thriving cultural creative industry, top-notch UK publishers such as Thames & Hudson, DK and its parent company Penguin Random House have brought their signature arts and cultural products to Chinese readers. 

Imperial China, a DK production, was co-created by both Chinese and English editors, Sun Zhefei, a representative with the publishing house, told the Global Times. The book is part of the publisher's Ancient Civilization collection. "Involving both Chinese and the UK editors can provide new angles to tell Chinese stories through books," Sun noted. 

Mutual learning and collaboration between Chinese and international publishers is the main focus of the fair. 

Philippe Werck, founder of Belgian children's book publisher Clavis, told the Global Times that he has been attending BIBF for the past 14 to 15 years. During this time, he has seen the "big Chinese publishing industry" mature with its outreaching mentality and "inner growth."  

"Decades ago, Chinese buyers would buy everything we sold and see 'European' as a sign of the best quality. But now, Chinese buyers are more selective and having a collaborative mind-set. I think this is brilliant," Werck noted. 

Including the global publishing field's traditional leading countries like the UK, Germany and Japan, the 2023 fair also has newly added exhibitors from countries like Rwanda and Iran. 

Publishers from the US are another highlight at the event in terms of its focused specialty and its long partnership with China. 

Columbia University Press and Sage from the US are only two of the world's leading academic publishers at the fair. Representatives of both publishers told the Global Times that they have been partnered with multiple Chinese higher institutions for years, and attending BIBF is a "must hold tradition," Lu, a representative of Columbia University Press, told the Global Times.