Beijing International Book Fair: New November Dates

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The sprawling Beijing International Book Fair, founded in 1986, was to open this week but has announced late-November dates.

At Beijing International Book Fair 2021. Image: BIBF

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

See also: 
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China’s Market Growth Rate This Year So Far: Down 13.8 Percent
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New Dates: November 24 to 27
This morning (August 22), the new media are being informed that the Beijing International Book Fair‘s (BIBF) dates are being moved to November 24 to 27. The show was to have opened on Wednesday (August 24) and run to Sunday.

A note directed to “exhibitors and friends of BIFF” has been circulated to the press, confirming that the venue for the fair will remain the China International Exhibition Center in the capital in November.

The brief text adds, “We would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused by the changes to the book fair, and express to you our sincere appreciation for your continuous understanding and support. We look forward to meeting you at  BIBF.” 

In speaking with our press contacts there, we learn that the delay is not as big a surprise to international exhibitors as it may be to many in the world publishing industry. Organizers, we’re told, have been in direct touch with international exhibitors since June, and have been assisting those exhibitors in making logistical arrangements, adjusting transport, and so on. Good and materials shipped to Beijing, Publishing Perspectives is told, are being held free of charge by the fair for exhibitors.

Apparently, the delay in the public announcement was caused by the need to secure the new dates in November.

A rights discussion at Beijing International Book Fair 2021. Image: BIBF

Responses to COVID-19, Heat, Drought

As Bloomberg has reported this morning in its updated story, China is facing what appears to be its biggest coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak since the Shanghai lockdowns. On Sunday (August 21), the nation reported 1,824 new cases, which is said to be the highest daily total in some three months.

“We would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused by the changes to the book fair, and express to you our sincere appreciation for your continuous understanding and support.”Beijing International Book Fair organizers

A major challenge seems to be that many vacationing Chinese citizens are being held at their vacation destinations because of outbreaks. One of the main hot spots of this kind is the island province of Hainan, a popular tropical setting for holidays. On Friday (August 19), Daisuke Wakabayashi wrote for The New York Times, “Over the last month, during the height of the summer travel season, China has shut down popular travel destinations in Hainan, Tibet and Xinjiang after outbreaks in those areas, stranding tens of thousands of tourists.”

While Chinese travelers are not to leave the country for what’s deemed nonessential travel, even domestic travel is problematic, as rolling outbreaks and spread-mitigation measures crop up in various destinations.

In addition to its battle with coronavirus outbreaks, China is also facing high temperatures and drought, as Nicholas Gordon reports today for Fortune. Power cuts are being imposed, especially in industry settings, to preserve power for residents.

“China’s heartland has reported temperatures as high as 104 F [40 Celsius] and low precipitation for over two months,” Gordon writes, “making the current heat wave the longest on record. Some cities like Nanjing in Jiangsu Province, which average three to four inches of rain in August, have not recorded any precipitation this month, according to China’s meteorological agency. The Yangtze River is now down to just under half its natural width.”

The 2021 BIBF

At the 2021 edition of Beijing International Book Fair. Image: BIBF

Coping with pandemic delays last year, as well, the fair—which is public-facing and has a professional program and rights center—ran its 2021 iteration on a delayed schedule, as well.

The program, which is led by director Liying Lin, last year reported that its 2021 edition (finally held September 14 to 18) had:

  • More than 1,600 exhibitors
  • Attendees and exhibitors representing more than 105 countries and regions
  • Chinese exhibitors from 34 provinces
  • More than half its physical exhibitors overseas
  • More than 600 international publishers engaged in digital offerings
  • Thirteen of China’s top 50 companies engaged

Among known rights deals and projects announced during the fair and listed for Publishing Perspectives, were:

  • Oxford University Press and the Commercial Press (China Publishing Group) introduced two new dictionaries: The Concise English-Chinese Chinese-English Dictionary (5th edition) and The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary of Academic English (English/Chinese)
  • Routledge and Commercial Press also released two titles in English: Principles of New Ethics by the Chinese philosopher Wang Haiming and The Development Trajectory of Eastern Societies and The Theories and Practices of Socialism by Zhao Jiaxiang, both part of the “China National Governance” series
  • Yilin Press, an imprint of Phoenix publishing, and Media signed a new rights agreement with Borgerhoff Lamberights (Belgium) to publish the Chinese novel Forget Me in Dutch, a biography of Qian Xiuling known as the “Schindler of China” for saving 110 Belgian hostages held by the Nazis in World War II
  • Jiangsu Phoenix, a juvenile and children’s publisher, signed a new rights agreement with Pakistan’s Beyond Horizon publishing house to publish the Chinese children’s bestseller I Want to be Good by Huang Beijia, translated into English by Britain’s Nicky Harman
  • SDX Joint Publishing, an imprint of China Publishing Group, and Springer Nature signed a publishing agreement to release the Chinese archeologist Xu Hong’s work, East Asian Bronze in the Pre-Oracle Period in English

At the 2021 edition of Beijing International Book Fair. Image: BIBF

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.

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 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.