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The effect of the coronavirus is being felt in publishing. The Taipei International Book Exhibition, which was due to run from 4-9 February, has now been postponed to 7-12 May, and many publishers which have offices in China are taking precautionary measures, including banning all business travel to and from China and advising staff to work at home.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture said: “Taiwanese publishers have expressed their concerns about the coronavirus affecting readers’ attendance and participation. Publishers have suggested the Ministry of Culture postpone the book fair.”
Publishers associations and exhibitors met with the Tapei Book Fair Foundation to discuss the risk and work out the best course of action. The concensus was that the number of visitors – usually around 500,000 – would decline drastically and parents would be unlikely to bring their children into the new children’s hall. Also, authors and international exhibitors had already started to pull out of coming to the fair because of concerns over the virus.
It was decided to postpone the fair, and the Ministry of Culture and the Taiwan Book Fair Foundation have put together a team to liaise with exhibitors and organise contingency measures for the postponement. At the time of writing Taiwan has confirmed that eight people have been infected with the virus.
Meanwhile, Springer Nature, Elsevier and Taylor & Francis are among publishers with offices in China who have issued guidelines to staff. Springer Nature said: “We have taken precautions including stopping all business travel to and from China until further notice and supporting colleagues in China who are restricted from travelling or returning to work following the Chinese New Year holiday. We’ve postponed certain planned Nature Conferences in affected regions until the situation is better understood. A global response team, working closely with colleagues in China, has been convened and will keep the situation and business response under review.”
Taylor & Francis said: “With indications that the coronavirus has an incubation period of up to 14 days, colleagues in our China office have been advised to work from home until 17 February.”
Elsevier and Oxford University Press are among publishers which have made resources concerning the virus freely available to help healthcare professionals, medical researchers and the public.