• Monday, July 22, 2024

Taipei Book Fair 2023 Presents a Good Market Opportunity for Children’s Book Publishers

The Taipei International Book Exhibition is midway through its six-day run and will close on February 5.
on Feb 03, 2023
Taipei Book Fair 2023

The two main market factors impacting Taiwan's children's book category are the dropping birthrate (at just 0.89 in 2022) and rising household expenditure on instructional and entertainment books. The government introduced the 108 Curriculum Education System in 2019, promoting reading, useful problem-solving abilities, and logical reasoning. As a result, there is now a substantial market demand for books on nature, mathematics, and popular science.

The Taipei International Book Exhibition is midway through its six-day run and will close on February 5. Overall, this is fantastic news for children's book publishers there. The foot traffic was comparable to the pre-pandemic exhibition of 2019, even though the children's pavilion is no longer in a distinct hall (now mixed with general/trade publishers due to fewer exhibitors).

Schoolchildren on spring break or the Chinese New Year flocked to the exhibition hall with their guardians or instructors. Parents on book-purchasing binges and children reading for free filled the booths of local children's book publishers, who sell cheap titles and book bundles. The outlook for a robust rights sales market in the area is encouraging, which is good news for international publishers.

Publisher Florent Grandin of Pere Fouettard Editions, who is in attendance at TIBE for the first time and plans to return next year, stated that his company has already sold six picture books to Taiwanese publishers this past year, including The White Maze and Whiteout by Adele Tariel to Global Kids. This tour aims to better understand the local book market, learn what is successful there, and network with additional Taiwanese publishers who might not be present at the Bologna or Frankfurt book fairs. 

Visitors were drawn to Chip the Sheep, another Tariel book with vividly colorful pictures, Louna Demir's The Taste of Freedom, and Laurent Cardon's four-volume Birds of All Feathers series at his stand in the France pavilion.

"On this tour, I'm solely providing picture books for children aged two to eight, and thus far, I see a tremendous interest in straightforward books about society and the environment."

It has been eye-opening for Davide Ioppi, the international rights manager for the Italian publishing house White Star, who typically oversees the Europe and Baltic region. Putting cultural differences aside, our country's publishers seek entirely different ideas. The popularity of activity books, for instance, is substantially higher here, and escape by Clarissa Corradin is quite popular with publishers! A problem-solving, educational, and adventure activity book called The Pharaoh's Curse is part of the Big Book of Games and Mad for Maths series. 

We have Montessori Boxes, a well-known brand, to sell. Boxed sets with flashcards are very popular, and Ioppi is also launching the business's new educational brand Lumi, for children up to 9, to Taiwan publishers.

Visitors oohed and aahed over the Folklore Field Guides series (on fairies, magical monsters, magic, and mermaids) at the Quarto Group booth, which featured silver-foil-embossed cloth covers and silver book edges. However, according to Quarto Kids international rights executive Rachel Li, whose team brought 209 children's books to TIBE, "the publishers I met are generally searching for general reference and titles on nature rather than fantasy."

They choose nonfiction and instructive books like What Are You Doing Today, Mother Nature? by Lucy Brownridge, and Welcome to the Mysteryverse by Clive Gifford. However, each publisher is unique, and all cater to different age groups when they publish. Therefore, my visitors' interests are varied and extensive.

According to international rights director Christine Scholz of Paris-based Editions Larousse, who has 25 set appointments booked for the event, "Children's publishers in Taiwan are buying more than they used to." They purchased books about activities, nature, the environment, social/emotional learning, and art. One of the best-selling books at her table is Christine Palluy's adventure/detective series Miss Agatha. The same goes for Carine Simonet's illustrated q&a series on confidence, friendship, and mortality.

"The latter is especially helpful in assisting parents in having these conversations with their kids. There are presently five books in the series, which Taiwan publishers may choose from or release all at once. Scholz is a first-time TIBE visitor who considers the fair well-organized and the attendees polite and interested.

Philippe Werck of Clavis, a publisher from Belgium, was excited to visit TIBE again and meet up with the individuals he met in 2019. Werck, who enjoys showing guests Roel Seidell's The Yippee Stick and Esther van den Berg's Kiki series, added, "I also have more than 1,000 new titles—published within the previous three years—and Clavis Joy, a new product line of merchandises, to offer to them."

"Connecting face-to-face and being here in person—rather than via Zoom calls—makes all the difference. While books are vital, people are perhaps more so since the book industry is a people's business. If I'm not here, I can sense the distance. The Clavis rights sales have continued throughout the pandemic thanks to its strong brand, portfolio of reputable writers and illustrators, and extensive network built up over the previous 30 years; in fact, the business has increased by 60% since 2019.

In the fall of last year, Werck released the ClavisGo app, which scans and reads aloud English pages from any Clavis publication, including Belgian versions.

"On this tour, young people are more interested in studying the English language. Therefore, by utilizing this free software, Taiwanese publishers, instructors, and parents may assist youngsters in learning English while enhancing their listening and speaking abilities.

"It's amazing to come back and meet old friends face-to-face after three years of head-and-shoulders views on Zoom," says Caroline Purslow, DK sales director for Asia. She is present with Cindy Ma, who oversees foreign publishing and licensing, and Sharon Wong, who is in charge of sales.

"Our objective is to unearth fresh data and market requirements that we can relay to our editorial division so that they know the items that would be appropriate for this market." The Moon, Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Life by Sanlyn Buxner (along with five other books in the Anthology series), Mouse Tells the Truth and Rabbit Says Sorry by Ella Law (part of the Kindness Club series), and Get to Know Money by Kalpana Fitzpatrick are a few of the bestsellers at the booth, according to Purslow. 

"Publishers are interested in titles on science/culture interdisciplinary crossovers, illustrated reference/nonfiction volumes, and those on emotional intelligence," added Purslow, who was delighted to see The Science of Animals' freshly printed Taiwan version at Cite Publishing's exhibit.

Apart from rights, sales of DK English editions to Taiwan importers have dramatically grown throughout the epidemic.

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