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The Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF) has announced plans for its 28th iteration – a hybrid physical and digital fair to be held on 25-29 August.

For international publishers who are not able to travel due to Covid-19 travel restrictions but would still like a physical presence at BIBF, the fair has launched a new service: SMART! Assistant. BIBF will provide assistants on-site during the book fair to present international publishers’ titles to interested Chinese publishers and forward their contacts after the fair. Alternatively, publishers can send their books to a dedicated collective space at the fair designed to showcase the latest international adult and children book titles. The deadline to register books for the collective space is 30 June 2021.

Together with SMART! Assistant, BIBF has extended its online services at SMART!BIBF, where publishers can be present at BIBF events and seminars and enjoy continued access for 365 days following the event.

SMART!BIBF was launched in 2020 and attracted more than 1,400 publishers in total, including over 580 Chinese publishers and institutions.  It is designed to help publishers conduct their rights business online. With more than 38,000 copyright titles on display, organisers say it has attracted over 1 billion visits in 2020.

Despite the pandemic, the Chinese book market has shown very strong growth in 2021, with the first quarter up 18.6% year on year. Online book sales have increased by 10.69%, while physical store channels have increased by 55.44% (source: OpenBook).

Fair Director Ms. Liying Lin said: “Following a very strong year of growth for Chinese publishing, we are delighted to announce that Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF) will be back to support the publishing industry in both physical and digital forms this year. At the physical event, we hope to welcome publishers from across China and locally-based representatives from around the world. Our digital platform will enable us to welcome thousands of publishers from around the globe. While we know digital cannot replace face-to-face communication, we hope that services such as our new SMART! Assistant can open up opportunities for people who may not have been able to attend traditional book fairs at all in the past. I think this is an exciting opportunity to reimagine what global book fairs look like and I’m delighted BIBF is at the forefront of this initiative.”