Frontlist | Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair on schedule
The 2020 China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair will take place at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center between Nov 13 and 15. Since 2013, the annual event has grown to become the largest showcase of books for young readers in the Asia-Pacific region.
As the second large-scale book event in the city this year, following the Shanghai Book Fair in August, the children’s book fair will adopt a new exhibition model combining online and offline activities. It is an international book fair in which many overseas publishers participate, Xu Jiong, head of the municipal administration for press and publication, said at a news conference on Oct 27.
“Face-to-face communication on copyrights and other commercial opportunities have been a vital part of the fair,” Xu says.
The main target has been to involve more international exhibitors and improve the fair to help it grow into one of the most important showcases of children’s books globally, he adds.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced majority of the book fairs all over the world to move online, postpone or cancel this year.
Xu says China has contained the pandemic, and social life and economic operations have largely returned to normal.
“In Shanghai, for example, a series of large-scale exhibitions have taken place in the past few months, so we decided to present the children’s book fair as planned,” he says.
Still many overseas exhibitors and guests will not be able to attend the fair personally. But their books will be displayed at the venue.
“We will coordinate with these absent participants through a series of online events,” says Xu, adding that he believes the combination of on-site exhibition and online communication, as a business model, will be the new normal in the post-pandemic era.
By presenting events online, the fair will be able to reach more people and increase its influence and coverage. There used to be overseas exhibitors, especially small publishers and institutions working with less-used language, who could not attend the book fair because of distance and cost issues, he adds.
“The online book fair can largely solve such problems.”
More than 350 publishers and cultural institutions from 21 countries and regions, including Russia, Italy and the United States, will take part in this year’s fair, accounting for more than 30 percent of all exhibitors, Xu says.
The fair will take up a total exhibition space of 25,000 square meters. It’s divided into two sections: the copyrights and trading zone will open exclusively for professional visitors, while the public and service zone will be open to all.
A special exhibition, titled Children Plus Toddlers’ Books, will be held during the fair, in partnership with the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, displaying around 140 books from different countries for children－from infants up to age 3.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Italian writer Gianni Rodari, whose The Tale of the Little Onion has enjoyed wide popularity with Chinese readers for decades. An art exhibition, Italian Excellence: Illustrators for Gianni Rodari, will be presented at the fair, too.
Authors, publishers, illustrators and specialists working in the field of children’s entertainment and education, such as the 2020 Greenaway Medal winner Shaun Tan from Australia, 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award winner for illustration Albertine from Switzerland and Chinese writer Cao Wenxuan, will share their insights at seminars.
A number of competitions will take place, with awards announced during the fair, such as the Golden Pinwheel Young Illustrators Competition and the Chen Bochui International Children’s Literature Award.