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The shift online by Asia’s biggest book fair, the Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF), has brought in some new exhibitors, according to Fair Director Liying Lin.

“We have several first-time exhibitors from the UK who have taken advantage of BIBF’s move online.  ‘I Am A Bookworm’ and ‘The Rights Solution’ are both new exhibitors who are now using BIBF’s Rights Recommendation Service.  Immediately following our WeChat promotion, more than 800 Chinese publishers and buyers read information about their titles within one hour, and we expect them to do well as a result.”

She added: “We also have ten publishers from Latin America who have taken advantage of the online opportunities, saving the expense of travel and accommodation, and we expect more to register soon.  The publishers who have registered so far are Uruguay XXI, Amanuense, Alter Editions, Objeto, Belerofonte (Uruguary); Listocalisto, Kapelusz Editora, AZ Editora (Argentina); Somplemente and VLP agency (Chile) who between them have uploaded 187 new titles to the Rights Link”.

There are some 20 publishers from the Arab World, including four from the UAE – Bentham Science Publishers Ltd, Alpha Publishing, Al Bousalah for publishing and distribution and Abu Dhabi Book Fair.  There are also 11 publishers from Iran, far above the usual one or two Iranian publishers who attend the physical fair.  This year many more are taking the opportunity of being able to attend virtually.

The UAE writer, director and screenwriter Ibrahim Al-Marzouqi took part in BIBF’s Arab Night on 27 August.  His novel Yi Tian, based in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE,  was translated and published in 2019.  It presents a fresh reading opportunity to Chinese readers as it portrays UAE life.  During Arab Night, Al-Marzouqi also put forward his recommendations for books.

This year’s ‘smart’ BIBF, which is organised by the China National Publications Import and Export (Group) Corporation (the largest publication import/export company with over 60% of the market share), takes place against a more positive picture of the country’s book industry as it recovers from Covid.  According to Shanghai stats body Centrin Ecloud, bookstore sales for May and June were 80% (or more) above pre-pandemic levels.