By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
A Curated Collection of 450 BooksAs the London Book Fair’s Market Focus Indonesia program comes into view, the first thing you may notice is that it comprises not one but two stands at Olympia London—one on ground floor and one on the floor above.
This approach reflects not only the elegance of the country’s 2015 Frankfurter Buchmesse Guest of Honor program but also this year’s smartly updated evocation of content that’s being developed across many platforms.
In talking with Laura Prinsloo, chair of the Indonesian National Book Committee, we’ve been given an early virtual tour of what promises to be a striking evocation of the goals and features of this year’s international focal market at the fair.
As Prinsloo tells us, the presentation this year at the London Book Fair is very much about how critical it’s becoming for publishers and their authors to think as early as possible about getting their content out across formats and platforms.
Ground Floor: ‘17,000 Islands of Imagination’
“We’ll have two Market Focus stands,” Prinsloo tells us.
“At the ground level, you’ll find a 400-square-meter installation that’s two stories tall in itself.
“There, people can enjoy our curated collection of 450 books while walking around our stand on an elevated platform. And from the top, they can see the 360-degree screens we’ll have showing a beautifully produced film on our theme of “17,000 Islands of Imagination.” We’ll have Bluetooth headphones so visitors can comfortably listen to the sound, too.
“Twenty Indonesian publishers will occupy this ground-floor, two-story stand,” Prinsloo says, “which also has a 360-degree photo booth in which guests can take a photo against their choice of 10 island backgrounds. They’ll have their photos printed right away.”
And Above That: A ‘Spice Café’
Those who follow the work of Indonesian author Laksmi Pamuntjak—and particularly her food-focused The Birdwoman’s Palate—know all about the spectacular range of flavors and textures in the islands’ culinary culture. The country’s redolent cuisine is a presence in what the upper floor of the Market Focus pavilion is about.
“There’s always been a great deal of Indonesian content readily available in English. Many of our children’s books are published bilingually.”Laura Prinsloo
“Our second stand,” Prinsloo tells us, “is on the first floor at Olympia London and occupies 200 square meters, which we’ve designed as our ‘Spice Café.’
“There we’ll be serving special snacks, tea, and coffee made by top Indonesian baristas and chefs. In the center of this stand, you’ll find a stage filled with events produced by 12 cross-media companies from our market.”
As Prinsloo explains, it’s not just in food that you’ll find that island variety—it’s in the content, as well.
“We’ll have everything from film, games and board games, animation and apps, to character, entertainment, and intellectual property,” all operating as shifting themes, formats, and contexts for the content of Indonesia.
Participating in the programming for the week at the London Book Fair–in addition to publishers–are cross-media companies including:
- Educa Studio
- Hompimpa Games
- Lentera Nusantara
- Manikmaya Games
- Tahi Lalats
- MSV Studio and Pictures
- BGDev 3 Nagari
- Aprofi, the Association for Indonesian Film Producers
Bilingualism Served Here
While the rapid growth and breadth of Indonesia’s creative industries is impressive, so are the numbers.
More than 15.9 million people are working in Indonesia’s creative industries, which make a 7.3-percent contribution to the country’s GDP, roughly equivalent to US$67 billion.Indonesian Agency for Creative Economy
According to Jakarta’s Indonesian Agency for Creative Economy, more than 15.9 million people are working in those industries, which make a 7.3-percent contribution to the country’s GDP (gross domestic product), roughly the equivalent of US$67 billion.
The export valuations alone come to some US$20 billion.
Something that Prinsloo is stressing this year is that the London Market Focus has special importance for Indonesia’s market because, “There’s always been a great deal of Indonesian content readily available in English. Many of our children’s books are published bilingually, and align with the growth of English-speaking schools, especially in main cities,” she says.
The Big Bad Wolf Book Fair, she reminds us—which bills itself as the world’s largest exhibition of books—”has announced that it will bring 5.5 million English-language books for its next outing in Indonesia, March 1 to 11. And the majority of their sales,” she says, “will be made in English-language titles for children.”
With its theme of “17,000 Islands of Imagination,” the Market Focus program has “at least a good 100 events at Olympia and also around London during the week of London Book Fair. For literary focused events, we’ve worked with the British Council on events featuring our 12 authors,” including Seno Gumira Ajidarma as one of the fair’s designated Authors of the Day.
Jakarta’s team has also worked closely, Prinsloo says, with the UK’s Publishers Association and London Book Fair administration for events including a “modest fashion” event with Dian Pelangi at Asia House. (More on that event is here.)
Coffee Cups and Cinema
“On top of that, we’ve organized many book discussions,” Prinsloo says, “mural live demonstration, coffee cup sessions, and tea tastings all at the Spice Café.
“We’ll also have a number of exhibitions during that week,” she says, “including one on the digitization of old Javanese manuscript material at the British Library; a curated children’s illustration show at Studio 249; architecture and graphic design at the Protein Studio; a play session at Draughts Board Game Café in London Hackney; and film screenings at SOAS University.
“One of the films is Wiro Sableng 212, which will be screened before the actual European premier, which comes up in April at the Udine Film Festival.” Wiro Sableng 212 is director Angga Dwimas Sasongko’s adaption of Seno Gumira Ajidarma’s book. The film was released in 2018.
Seno Gumira Ajidarma will be in conversation with The Guardian’s Sian Cain at 2 p.m. on Wednesday (March 13) at the English PEN Literary Salon at London Book Fair. More on the Indonesian Market Focus film programming is here.
After Frankfurt: ‘A Significant Improvement’
Prinsloo and her associates now look back for guidance at their experiences in 2015 as Frankfurt’s Guest of Honor.
“The international publishing community could assist Indonesia’s market in moving forward by making use of our translation grant program.”Laura Prinsloo
“Since then, the Indonesian government has set up our National Book Committee, which focuses on the promotion of Indonesian books to the world. Under this we have programs such as participation at international book fairs, translation grants, an authors’ residency program, and many more. Since the setup of the book committee, Indonesia has sold more than 1,200 titles to foreign publishers. That’s a significant improvement.
“However, the National Book Committee is a NBC is temporary,” she says, “and it’s not an independent entity with its own budget.
“In Indonesia, we don’t yet have an organization that looks after books in general, let alone a long-term strategy for the book industry and its efforts in international promotion. Our desire is to have an organization run by professionals from relevant fields to support all areas of the publishing ecosystem.
“The international publishing community could assist Indonesia’s market in moving forward by making use of our translation grant program and also by participating in our international book fairs and literary festivals.”
And the best way to get started during London Book Fair week, Laura Prinsloo says, is to simply “Come to our Spice Café, where we’ll have events for almost everyone. And drop off your business card at any of our stands: we’ll have a draw at the end of the fair for a trip to Indonesia for two lucky winners.”
And a version of this story appears in our Spring Magazine, which is ready for your free download ahead of the London Book Fair—where you’ll find the print edition available, also free of charge.
Get the jump on the issues and players important at LBF and other major fairs of the season this year, plus an early look at key points interest about the coming Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20).