Publishers lure readers at annual book fair

Annual weeklong Shanghai Book Fair kicked off with a deal made for Yangtze River Delta publishing cooperation and non-stop events.
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

A mother and her child read a book at the Shanghai Book Fair, which kicked off yesterday at the Shanghai Exhibition Center.

More than 500 publishers were on hand for the start of the Shanghai Book Fair yesterday. Many of them were also showing off their latest, creative ways to catch the attention of readers.

At the booth of Penguin Random House, four Japanese capsule-toy machines dispensed badges bearing titles of the publisher’s books.

“This year we decided to change our way of reader interaction. The attempt is a brand-new one that we are using at the book fair,” said Liu Yunqian with Penguin Random House. Liu said in the past, the company often brought sideline products like bags, notebooks and cups to the fair.

“This year we customized the four machines and everyone who buys a book from Penguin Random House, no matter how much he pays, can get a badge,” Liu told Shanghai Daily. “We believe this can encourage reading, while also being fun for readers.”

At the Chen Bochui International Children’s Literature Award area, youngsters can get book recommendations from Tong Tong, an animated cat powered by artificial intelligence technology. After answering a few questions, Tong Tong will direct young people to suitable books which have won the award. These book are available on-site and customers can take them away after scanning a mobile-payment QR code.

According to Pan Lan, curator of Shanghai Baoshan International Folk Arts Exposition, which organizes the award, they have already used augmented reality technology at previous fairs. They have also studied the experiences of overseas children’s book fairs to attract youngsters and foster their love of reading.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

American publisher Penguin Random House displays its “Game of Thrones’’ 3D puzzle series at this year’s fair.

Harper Collins Publishers have a special area dedicated to Agatha Christie. Those buy Christie books can get free related gifts, such as drinking mugs. “Most Chinese readers are familiar with Agatha Christie and there are many Chinese versions of her books and stage dramas adapted from her novels in the local market,” said Michael Zhang, a marketing director with Harper Collins. “Her novels don’t demand a very high English level and are suitable for those who just want to read more in English.”

At the display area for Matsuzaka Shooku, which is the city’s largest Japanese book and culture center at the Shanghai Foreign Language Bookstore, visitors can find a plethora of titles related to animator Makoto Shinkai. Shinkai, incidentally, is the subject of an exhibition at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai.

This year’s book fair, for the first time, also includes a sinology section, which features more than 5,000 titles from over 50 publishers.

Grace Hu, a post-graduate student who is spending her holiday in Shanghai, was drawn to the books on traditional Chinese culture. “The thread-bound editions are quite beautiful,” said Hu. “I picked up some books about traditional Chinese philosophy.”

Other highlights of the first day of the fair included a seminar from Commercial Press introducing its new bibliography of rare titles owned by book collector Zhang Yuanji.

For those interested in politics, China International Publishing Group held a meet-the-author event for its new book “Governing China in the New Era.” The book is part of series called “Understanding China,” which includes both English and Chinese-language titles.

The annual book fair is being held at Shanghai Exhibition Center until 21.

This year it features more than 150,000 titles from over 500 publishing houses.

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