Spirit of ‘outreach’ at BBF highlights Chinese book industry’s growth
Published: Jan 11, 2024 10:50 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Book Fair

Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Book Fair

The 36th Beijing Book Fair (BBF), 2024's first large-scale event for the Chinese book and publishing industries, kicked off at the China International Exhibition Center in Beijing on Thursday. 

This year, the annual event hosts more than 400,000 kinds of books and 720 exhibitors, predominantly Chinese mainland publishers and book agencies. Song Gexin, a publishing market observer, told the Global Times that the BBF is the "routine" for the industry to discover "customer resources and also cooperation opportunities with peers." 

Despite the fair's "routine" nature, the 2024 BBF is underlined with several new changes, including an overseas "outreach" strategy that has emerged among publishers of different specialties. 

Book collection Silk Road Books Series: A Glance of China is being presented by China Petrochemical Press. The books, which include categories such as "culture" and "economy," have been translated into multiple languages such as Russian and English. The books can be found in universities in Asia, North Africa and the US due to the publisher's "overseas bookshelf" campaign. 

A staff member of the publisher surnamed Li told the Global Times that so far, the company has collaborated with a total of 11 overseas universities in countries like Egypt, Canada, Algeria and Saudi Arabia, since 2020. 

"We have four upcoming projects this year. The series continues the Silk Road's spirit of exchanges to share knowledge with each other," said another staff member surnamed Zhu. 

Connecting with overseas markets is without a doubt a major trend, Qian Chuanqiang, a representative of the Forbidden City Publishing House, told the Global Times. 

As the only publishing company officially working under China's Palace Museum, its displayed book collections are mostly about previous museum exhibitions such as a special exhibition about the Dunhuang culture. 

Qian told the Global Times that the copyright of some of their books have been sold to companies in countries like Japan and South Korea. Aside from publications, the publishing house has launched cultural creative products like a bilingual Palace Museum calendar to connect with more foreign consumers. 

Zhu Xiaoyu, a Chinese publishing market insider, told the Global Times that besides domestic policy support, the growing passion for overseas markets is the result of the industry gaining a better understanding of books' mission to "shape the world's view about China." 

A total of 2,898 books are at BBF to tell Chinese stories through books, even niche areas like Chinese medicine and the country's aerospace technology. Other than paperback books, the 2024 BBF is hosting a wide range of cultural activities. Book salons, parent-child reading sessions, scholarly talks about leveling reading, book publishing events featuring authors and so forth are all open for free to visitors. 

Feng Juying, a 58-years-old who brought her grandson to the fair, told the Global Times that they visit the book fair every year and that she has always been able to find what she needs to continue her self-studies. 

"In my opinion, our 'nationwide reading' goal can be achieved through such events because it provides us with ideas about what to read," Feng told the Global Times.

She added that she is thinking about sharing her reading lists online through streaming because that is now "in fashion." 

The book fair was co-organized by the Publishers Association of China and the Books and Periodicals Distribution Association of China. It is scheduled to end on Saturday.