Bibliophiles' delight as Shanghai Book Fair opens new page
The 19th Shanghai Book Fair raised its curtain today at the Shanghai Exhibition Center (1000 Yan'an Road M. 延安中路1000号).
The annual culture feast offers 180,000 types of books from more than 20 publishing groups and about 350 publishers, for readers with varied taste, from fiction to social sciences, biographies, children's books, science books, and even second-hand comics.
Many of the publishers and bookstores taking part are offering discounts of as much as 50 percent on books at the seven-day event, many of which have debuted this year.
A big theme of the book fair is children's reading. The Chen Bochui Children's Book House showcases an entire wall of books, all of them award-winning children's literature since 2014. Chen Bochui (1906-97) was one of the most successful authors of children's literature in China, writing and translating nearly 100 books.
"This year we have especially focused on the integration of cutting-edge technology, combined with the current trends of 2023 in the hope of engaging more children in reading literature," said Yang Qiulin, a staff member in charge of the book house.
Besides, the "Meet AI and Draw Together" interactive program allows children to convey the content and style of the illustration they want to generate, after which the artificial intelligence program produces a unique illustration of the children's desire in a minute.
The book house also employs a lot of interactive audio-visuals, bringing award-winning children's books to life with a dynamic interactive projection animation of "The Truth About Old People" by Ukrainian author Elina Ellis and AI light and shadow moving projection of "First Floor Right" by Portuguese authors Nicolau Fernandes and Ricardo Henriques.
There are children's books in English. Shanghai Foreign Languages Bookstore under Shanghai Book Traders is offering 50 percent discounts or so on English-language books aimed at teenagers, such as popular sciences, children's literature and comic books.
"For example, visitors can pick seven of any National Geographic Kids issues for just 100 yuan (US$13.70), which is very beneficial," said Jia Liwei, who oversees children's books at Shanghai Book Traders.
Jia noted that in recent years English-language books are getting increasingly popular with Chinese children as a supplementary reading resource. Classic stories, such as "Charlotte's Web" and "Charlie's Chocolate Factory," always enjoy great sales.
A father of an 11-year-old boy, who identified himself as Kong, agreed with her.
"My son loves to read English books, but mostly jokes and humorous stories, so I have brought him to the book fair for the first time to expand his vision," Kong said. "He will now know that there are many other options of books that he'll love."
Adults will obviously find their treasures as well. In the main exhibition hall, publishers from Sichuan Province occupy center-stage. They have brought more than 3,000 types of books on the southwestern province's local culture: A pop-up book on the ancient Sanxingdui Civilization drew hordes of click-happy visitors on Wednesday, while animal lovers went crazy over a series of books on giant pandas.
"I was amazed to find a picture book on Hua Hua, my favorite giant panda," said Zhang Xiaojing, a college student. "I have been watching her pictures and videos online since she was born in 2020 and of course I wouldn't hesitate to collect a real book on her this time."
Readers keen on more serious topics will not be disappointed, either. Books on social sciences and economics occupy major shelves of many publishers.
"We highly recommend the book 'Children in Counties' (县中的孩子) to our readers," said He Xiaotao, deputy editor-in-chief of Century Wenjing, a publishing brand under Shanghai Century Publishing Group. "The book discusses educational problems in small counties in China, to see if and how these children can find their way out of their small hometowns through common college entrance exams. We have received much positive feedback from our readers."
There is something even for second-hand book lovers at the book fair. Organized by Shanghai Ancient Bookstore, "Taoshule," which literally means "the joy of scouring for books," is a section featuring old, second-hand and rare books, from used children's books sold at 5 yuan each to expensive and rare old tomes, almost a century in age and priced at more than 2,000 yuan.
"The section first joined the book fair last year but only occupied a tiny booth. It surprisingly received overwhelming response, so we're back this year with a much larger corner," said Cheng Li, director of the bookstore. "Apart from old books, you can also find cultural products created on the basis of century-old magazines and newspapers issued in Shanghai."
The book fair will run until August 22. A series of lectures, signing sessions and new book releasing events will also be held during the period.
Since 2004, the annual Shanghai Book Fair – except for 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic – has been a jewel of summer in the city. Every year more than 150,000 types of books are available at the fair, attracting readers from all over the country.
Tickets are still available on various online platforms such as Damai.com and the WeChat account of the Shanghai Book Fair. Offline ticket purchase sites have been set up at 30 Xinhua Bookstore outlets across the city but there will be no ticket sales at the fair site.
Prices for the day and night sessions are, respectively, 10 yuan and 5 yuan. Visitors must do real-name registration to buy tickets with information from their identity card, passport, and mainland travel permit for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan residents.