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Book Boom

Post Time:2017-11-27 Source: China Daily Author:Zhang Kun Views:
Growing international interest in original content from China was apparent at a recent children's book fair in Shanghai. Zhang Kun reports.

The 5th China Shanghai International Children's Book Fair attested to growing interest in Chinese publications from local readers and international publishers alike.

The fair took place at the Shanghai Expo Exhibition Center from Nov 17-20, attracting more than 360 publishers and creative institutes. More than 1,000 authors, illustrators and industry professionals from 50 countries and regions participated in book readings, forums and other events.

The fair was established in 2013. It's the only one in the Asia-Pacific region that focuses solely on books for readers younger than 16 years old. This year, it occupied some 25,000 square meters of floor space, 12 percent more than the previous year, as the number of visitors increased.

Organizers didn't release specific numbers about copyright deals. But publishers were quick to note growing international interest in content from China.

Shanghai Century Publishing Group, the largest exhibitor, highlighted a series of new books featuring traditional Chinese folklore and classical literature.

"Books about ancient Chinese poetry, culture and science education have enjoyed great popularity with Chinese parents in the last few years," says Bi Sheng, head of the sales department at Century Publishing.

These titles have also attracted wide interest from overseas publishers and copyright agencies.

The Juvenile and Children's Publishing House affiliated with Century Publishing sold the copyrights of 266 books to countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. The publisher made more deals involving electronic copyrights.

Beijing Dandelion Children's Book House has been a regular participant at the fair.

"Over the past four years, we have made continuing efforts to work on the production of original Chinese picture books," says Yan Xiaoli, chief editor of the private publishing company. Since 2014, Dandelion has been promoting its products to the world. They've been published in the United States, Canada and Japan. One of Dandelion's books, There Are Always Reasons to Eat a Steamed Bun, has won high praise in China and attracted publishers from Japan and the US.

Books featuring Chinese cuisine have proved popular with readers both at home and abroad, she says. "A powerful story travels far beyond borders."

Encouraged by the success and popularity of Chinese food, Dandelion is working on more stories "with a taste of China", Yan says. One title, Grandma Peach Blossom Fish, featuring a kindhearted witch and her secret recipe for cooking fish, was launched at the fair. "There are already foreign publishers expressing interest in the copyright," Yan says.

Lu Jun, deputy editor-in-chief of CITIC Publishing Group, believes 2015 marked the start of a "golden decade" of rapid development for China's children's books market.

In the past few years, China has introduced a large number of foreign books for children, which largely expanded the vision of China's parents and publishers. However, this has "to some degree suppressed the development of original Chinese creativity", Lu says.

Also, he attributed the underdevelopment of Chinese picture books to inefficient working practices among authors, illustrators, publishers and even printing factories.

"Things are beginning to change, and a growing number of outstanding books for children has been published".

British translator Helen Wang won the "special contribution" award at the Chen Bochui International Award for Children's Literature during the book fair.

"If there is a good story, let's share it, and let everyone share it," Wang says.

There are very few people who translate children's books from Chinese to English. When a friend invited her to translate Cao Wenxuan's Bronze and Sunflower, she took the job and went on to translate five more books by the author.

Thanks to the work of translators such as Wang, Cao has been published in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Korean. He won the Hans Christian Anderson Award in 2016.
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