Friday, June 18, 2010

The 17th Beijing International Book Fair

by Jean Henry Mead

The Beijing Book Fair begins August 30 and runs through September 3. According to the International Children’s Publishing Exhibit: “Due to China's rapid growth in the global economy, the Beijing International Book Fair has been called one of the four most important publishing events in the world. During last year's event, there were 43,000 square meters exhibition area, 2,146 stands and 1,762 publishing houses from China and the world. Over 160,000 titles were on show and around 200,000 visitors were present at the fair.”

I’m interested in the children’s section of the fair because I recently finished my first children’s mystery and have heard that English is now a required subject in all Chinese schools. For companies trying to break into the country's burgeoning children's and educational book markets, the International Children's Publishing Exhibit (ICPE) at Beijing reportedly offers an ideal exhibit opportunity.

I hadn’t seen much publicity about the Beijing Book Fair until recently when I received an email brochure from the Children’s Book Literary Agency offering to promote my unpublished children’s mystery for $298 at Beijing, or $998 if I’d like to appear for half a day in their “Author-in-Booth.” That doesn’t include travel, hotel and meals or an admission ticket. The booth purportedly will contain a translator, limited number of manuscripts on one of their “strategic shelves” and the authors' books they represent. It will also reportedly contain “numerous bookshelves featuring Chinese/English cover sheets of the books” they will be presenting.

There are no guarantees. Or as the ebrochure states: “Have you heard this line from an old grizzled CEO? ‘I know half of my advertising is completely wasted. I just don’t know which half?!’ We think that sums it up. This is marketing, and there are no promises. However, I can guarantee that some of the authors that participate will get a significant boost from their presence at the show.“ It also provides an interesting vacation for those who can afford the trip.

However, the following paragraph made me decide to do some research:


As writers, publishers, and participants in the publishing industry we are going to be witness to the largest and fastest ramp-up that the world has ever seen as China has decided that the book and publishing industry is strategic and a couple of billion people are going to learn how to read and/or expand their knowledge of English literature. We believe that the opening of the Chinese publishing business will be bigger than the current global publishing business which stands at about $40 billion worldwide. That’s another $40 BILLION.”

I found the company on the Internet and learned that they've changed names a number of times and haven't carried through on their promises to display customers' books and manuscripts, for which they’ve charged exorbitant fees. I called the company a number of times but never received a call-back, so I would advise anyone who receives an email from the Literary Agency Group, Eloquent or Strategic Publishing to be careful about doing business with them or any other company that makes questionable claims.

1 comment:

Mark W. Danielson said...

Interesting, Jean. And I thought the LA Times Festival of Books was big:)