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2017 Shanghai Book Fair

Aug 3, 2017


The Shanghai Municipal Government’s Information Office held a press conference on July 19 to brief the media on this year’s Shanghai Book Fair. Here are the highlights:

Xu Jiong, director, Shanghai Press and Publication Bureau

Jiefang Daily: The public is increasingly focused on parent-child reading in recent years. Shanghai also has experience in hosting international children’s book fairs. So what will be the highlights of the Shanghai Book Fair this year since many We Media are voluntarily promoting parent-child reading’s book lists. Some irregularities exist in this field; will the administrators provide some guidance? Will the administrators support some of the better We Media?

Xu Jiong: Parent-child reading and youth reading are the basis of our promotion for reading among all members of society. So we have to lay the foundation well. Shanghai has a very good reading atmosphere and many parents give high priority to parent-child and youth reading. So every year the Shanghai Book Fair’s venues for youth reading and children reading always attract a large number of underage readers as well as their parents. Shanghai also has its annual International Children’s Book Fair in November and the two book fairs are complementary. The international children’s book fair focuses more on exchanges of domestic and overseas children’s books. It also has one essential function – copyright trading and one of the other focuses of this children’s book fair is parent-child reading and youth reading.

The Shanghai Book Fair will be held during the summer vacation so many children can visit the fair and multiple times, too.

We had put parent-child reading and youth reading as one of our priorities during the planning stage. Many readers have offered improvement advice and suggestions on the quality of children’s book exhibition hall. We have collected these suggestions and made greater improvements in selection of books and quality upgrades.

We have planned about 100 activities for the children’s exhibition hall. We will select the best from these activities to improve the overall quality. Shanghai has built brands of youth reading activities in recent years such as the just mentioned “selection of good children’s books in mothers’ eyes”. The perspective of mothers’ taste is unique and is very close to the public’s demand. There are many such examples. You have mentioned many grassroots parent-child reading promotion events held by parents. This is a very valuable reading promotion force in our eyes so the Shanghai Municipal Press and Publication Bureau launched a new media alliance to promote parent-child reading two years ago. The alliance organizes new media public accounts and pushes them to learn from each other’s advantages to promote parent-child reading.

Shanghai Daily: The Shanghai International Literature Week is a big draw for readers every year and plays a leading role in international cultural exchange. This year’s theme is science fiction, so what are the special arrangements and highlights?

More than 50 outlets of 17 local bookstore brands will serve as extra venues for the city’s book fair this year to give the city’s readers more choices. Has this practice been adopted before? What featured activities will these outlets have?

Xu Jiong: This year’s literature week focuses on sci-fi because people pay close attention to this genre, particularly to artificial intelligence. Real life science and technology development have very special interactive ties with science fiction. Many science and technology achievements have been adopted in real life nowadays but they used to exist only in sci-fi work dozens or about 100 years ago. Some science prototypes or products in today’s sci-fi novels may become real in the future. Sci-fi works have already exceeded the category of science and technology and there have been thinking impacts of science and technology on human society, human cultural development and humanity’s future. Sci-fi has attracted more people who have different focuses. As a result, we chose sci-fi as the theme for this year’s international culture week. This year we have invited some world-famous and very active writers, including some very active and prodigious writers from China. Writers from different countries have different cultural backgrounds so we expect them to gather in Shanghai to spark some new inspirations during discussions on many topics.

This extra-venue practice has been adopted in previous years but majorly at Xinhua Bookstore and Shanghai Bookmall. In recent years, offline bookstores have warmed up noticeably and a batch of new, featured and popular offline bookstores has emerged in Shanghai such as Zhongshuge Bookstore, Sisyphe Bookstore, Yanjiyou bookstore and JIC Bookstore. Xinhua Bookstores and Shanghai Bookmalls have also had some improvements. So this year’s extra venues will be definitely attractive. There is a very worthy phenomenon in this round of bookstore warming up – a batch of passionate, capable and innovative talents has entered this industry so the reading activities and planning at these bookstores have been very characteristic and attractive. I am sure this year’s extra venues will be splendid during the period of the book fair.

The public also expects much from the main venue of the Shanghai Book Fair. But the venue will have a large number of people and some activities will be relatively affected by the crowds and the resulting noise. In the last two years, the Shanghai Book Fair has taken isolation measures for crowds and some activities which require patience and silence. These extra venues will have many activities so readers can pay more attention to activities at these bookstores. There will be other activities at all libraries and community cultural centers. All activities will be great. The bureau will strive to balance quality resources at all extra venues. This year’s book fair will preserve exhibition zones for branded bookstores. What is the latest update on Shanghai’s offline bookstore operation?

Xu Jiong: Offline bookstores have been noticeably warming up and there was actual a business winter in 2011 and 2012 for bookstores in Shanghai when many offline bookstores closed their doors or relocated. Some landmark bookstores in prominent downtown places closed or relocated to out-of-town places, drawing public concern. The Shanghai Municipal Government gave this a top priority, taking out funds to support bookstores, bringing confidence back to the industry. The central government also offered many incentives, such as tax exemption for circulation. The state treasury also put aside a special fund to stabilize the offline bookstore industry and help them to restructure and become reading venues or cultural activity venues instead of being shops that just sell books.

Shanghai has some new offline bookstores, including some local brands such as Zhongshuge Bookstore, which has grown into a big brand among bookstores in China. SDX Joint Publishing Company in Shanghai has also opened branches in other provinces and municipalities and several brand-new branches in Shanghai. Renowned branded offline bookstores in China have almost all opened branches in Shanghai such as Sisyphe Bookstore, Yanjiyou Bookstore and the Mix-Place.

If you ask me about offline bookstores’ operation two years ago, I will say that I was cautiously optimistic about the situation since opening new shops requires solid economic base and sustainability. However, this year’s situation has become much more optimistic: Sisyphe Bookstore and Yanjiyou Bookstore opened many branches and still have expansion plans. They have confidence in realizing sustainable development. The offline bookstore industry has been warming up apparently in Shanghai and many other places in China. We will further support the development of offline bookstores and continue our previous support policies. We will also encourage offline bookstores to innovate, restructure, upgrade and improve readers’ experiences. The bureau will also build more platforms for these bookstores to learn from each other. We also encourage these bookstores to compete properly to improve readers’ experiences and make them further expand sustainably.

SMG: What about the scale of this year’s book fair? Will there be more publishing houses and books participating in the fair than earlier? What big names can we see at the book fair? Which renowned writers will be invited for the reading events held at local schools?

Xu Jiong: This year, the book fair will feature more than 500 publishers bringing a total 150,000 titles. During recent years, the Shanghai Exhibition Center has become a landmark for big reading events. Over 300,000 readers are predicted to gather at the main venue (Shanghai Exhibition Center) during the fair. However, we hope readers will pay attention to the parallel sessions as well so as to reduce the safety burden at the main venue and improve their experience.

The number of books displayed at the main venue will surely be bigger than that of any parallel session. The total number of visitors and titles displayed at the main venue and parallel sessions will exceed 300,000 and 150,000, respectively.

We plan to invite big names, including the hostess of hit TV programs “the Readers” and “Chinese Poetry Competition” Dong Qing, who will bring the new book “the Readers” to the book fair and will participate in some reading events. Guests of “Chinese Poetry Competition”, including Kang Zhen, Li Bo, and Meng Man, will be invited to attend the main forum of the book fair. We also plan to invite famous people like Yu Qiuyu, Yang Lan and Zou Shiming.

We are organizing “meet-and-greet” events with renowned writers at local schools, mainly inviting local writers or renowned children’s literature authors from across the country. Besides the regular activities, what highlights and bright points can we see at this year’s Shanghai Book Fair?

Xu Jiong: This is the 14th Shanghai Book Fair. The fair has experienced great changes since it was first held. During the last two years, the book fair had more and more reading events and has drawn increasing attention from readers. It has become easier for readers to purchase books due to online bookstores. Reading events which offer detailed book information to help readers find suitable books now play a bigger role at the book fair. The objectives of these events are to recommend good books and make readers better understand the books after they listen to the speeches and lectures given by authors.

In the past two years, we have spent more efforts on organizing and choosing proper events. It is easier for readers to find a good book at the book fair and real bookstores than at online stores.

As for highlights, we will focus on the quality of reading events this year. Besides, the Shanghai Book Fair has different themes every year. The major themes of this year are the 19th CPC National Congress, the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the 80th anniversary of the beginning of Anti-Japanese War and science fiction books.

We also have a special exhibition area to show respect for great masters and introduce their representative works to visitors.

Wenhui Daily: We have noticed other highlights such as the launch of picture books adapted from “the Creation of the World” and “Nine-color Deer” made by the Shanghai Animation Film Studio. Picture books are gaining in popularity and its target readers are not limited to young children. What is the uniqueness or importance of picture books, compared to literary ones?

Xu Jiong: Picture books and comics have much in common. However, they still have some differences. Picture books are gaining more and more popularity these days. They are popular among young children and primary and middle school students. Most of the picture books are introduced from other countries to make quick profits. However, we are making efforts to support the original picture books created by domestic authors instead of introducing foreign books. The picture books “the Creation of the World” or “Pangu Separates the Sky from the Earth” is an adaptation from the cartoon and speaks of an ancient Chinese mythology. It is one of our attempts to encourage original picture books and promote Chinese cultural roots.