Beijing International Book Fair Moves Online: ‘Smart BIBF’ Opens August 26

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The 27th edition of the Beijing show is moving to a digital format that organizers say will stay up and running until next year’s fair.

Image: BIBF

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Another Big Show Goes Digital
Uusing the motto “Moments of Joy and Opportunities,” organizers of the 2020 Beijing International Book Fair never quite say in today’s media messaging (July 14) that they’re not staging a physical edition of the trade show.

Instead, the fair is throwing branding at adversity and announcing its “Smart BIBF” to open August 26 and run for a year, free of charge to participants. In what may prove an interesting departure, however, the program is to include “premium paid-for services” as well as free access, “for exhibitors to provide a full and rich BIBF experience.”

Right in line with other major fairs, festivals, and trade shows of the publishing year, Beijing is describing its online offering as being designed “to give publishers the change to exhibit, network, and negotiate virtually.”

As with other programs, a rights trading functionality is to be included, of course, along with networking opportunities.

The “Smart Rights Link” is to include a matchmaking service, a way for exhibitors to upload their catalogues, and chances to display other content and videos. “Intelligent recommendations” are part of the plan, according to today’s news media messaging, along with meeting scheduling.

The phrase “Smart Learning” is the phrase the show is using for its conference programming “with expert speakers and BIBF’s own brand of “Insights Masterclass, a series of livestreamed masterclasses featuring the latest industry trends and global case studies.”

There’s also to be an online acquisition service for libraries, and Cuba, the show’s guest of honor market this year, is to offer “a full program of activities.”

Liying Lin: ‘Recovering Well’

Liying Lin

In a prepared statement, longtime BIBF director Liying Lin is quoted, saying, “We decided to turn this difficult situation into a positive opportunity to engage with exhibitors by creating Smart BIBF, to offer publishers a full exhibition and sales experience via a new, world-leading platform.

“We are reaching out to those who have never had the chance to visit or exhibit at BIBF before, as well as welcoming back previous visitors, exhibitors, and friends from across the world.

“The publishing industry in China is resilient,” Lin says, “and recovering well from the effects of COVID-19. The retail book market is bouncing back, with children’s titles, edu-tech, and digital products, all showing particularly healthy growth. These sectors will be among the highlights of the virtual fair.”

At this point, the site for all this is quite thin. You can find it here, however, and scrolling to the bottom reveals a timeline that may be useful to exhibitors who’d like to participate. There’s to be some exhibitor training, for example, on July 15 with exhibit uploads starting July 31. Events information appears to have a deadline of August 5, with appointment scheduling being available as of August 15 for the opening of the digital show August 26.

Last year in its 26th physical edition, the show had some 2,600 publishers from 95 countries and territories participating.

You’ll find an informational Q&A here.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Beijing International Book Fair is here. Our China Bestsellers series of reports is here. And more from us on China and its market in general is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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