Taipei International Book Exhibition Opens Its 31st Edition

In News by Porter Anderson

The 31st Taipei International Book Exhibition has opened its run with professional programming as well as public-facing entertainment.

A design concept for the Guest of Honor Poland pavilion at this week’s Taipei International Book Exhibition. Image: TiBE

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

Dual Professional Programming
Opening today (January 31) with its slogan, “The Multiverse of Reading,” the Taipei International Book Exhibition (TiBE) runs through Sunday (February 5), hosted by the ministry of culture and organized by the Taipei Book Fair foundation.

The fair, staged in the capital city’s vast Taipei World Trade Center Hall 1, by the weekend will be keeping its doors open until 10 p.m. to accommodate as many families and friends as possible at what TiBE’s press materials say is “the largest book fair in Asia.”

Those who work in show presentation will note that the staff has also produced this show to dovetail with the Lunar New Year, no mean feat when everyone keeps disappearing for holidays.

Working to re-gather its faithful following after being forced into digital and hybrid iterations like most fairs and trade shows during the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, this public-facing show has thematic elements designed to emphasize Taiwan’s independent spirit at a time when that ethos is a much-discussed point in international policy circles, of course.

The Taipei program did have a physical outing last year, and this week, the city remains heavily masked and careful, with arriving passengers at the airport handed self-testing kits.

Accustomed to tensions with Beijing, the Monday call between Czech president-elect Petr Pavel and Taiwan president Tsai Ing-Wen seemed to make little impact on the ground, despite what Reuters’ Yew Lun Tian and Eduardo Baptista have reported was the mainland’s displeasure.

Honoring a Multicultural Population

The Taipei International Book Fair’s artwork for its ‘Listening to the Different’ diversity-focused program. Image: TiBE

The book fair’s determinedly upbeat approach is evident in its planned Wednesday evening program called “Listening to the Different,” intended to emphasize the island’s diverse communities, with “empathy as revealed by ‘listening'” as a basis for multicultural appreciation. Music, dance, and readings in that program are to include:

  • Shihfang Ma, Golden Bell Award winner and writer
  • Gustave Cheng, PTS host
  • Ming-chu Chen, Hakka announcer
  • Suming Rupi, Golden Melody Award winner and Amis singer-songwriter
  • Nguyễn Kim Hồng, the Golden Horse Award-winning Vietnamese documentary director
  • Sue Wang, Taiwan’s first hearing-impaired model
  • Polish poet Marianna Bogumiła-Kielar
Guest of Honor Poland

An exhibition of historically relevant illustration work from Poland, 1918 to 2018 at Taipei International Book Exhibition. Image: TiBE

Poland is the guest-of-honor market for the show this year, and its delegation of at least 30 representatives are supporting one exhibition that features 24 Polish publications with topics ranging from legends to contemporary society, a way to display unique eras and events in Polish history, guiding visitors to see the origins of modern Poland. 

A second exhibition, “Captains of Illustration,” is curated by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, featuring  a selection of classic children’s books and paintings from Poland over the past century, including a “Collection of Polish Children’s Books and Picture Books,” in which the focus is on outstanding  illustrators and their works from 1918, the restoration of Poland’s independence, to 2018.

Yet a third exhibition, “Seven Wonders of the World,” is curated by Manuscriptum, a Polish publisher of rare books and antiquities, and features a collection of vivid reproductions of rare  books that have shaped the history of world civilization.

That show’s titles include: The Book of  the Dead The Papyrus of Ani”; the Voynich Manuscript, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery of the  New World; a Gutenberg Bible; the Leonardo da Vinci Codex Leicester; Nicolaus Copernicus’ De  Revolutionibus; and Frederick Chopin’s score for the Concerto in F minor.

Saturday night is themed “Polish Night” and features the musical ensemble Dagadana.

Professional Programming

‘Do the Rights Thing.’ Image: TiBE

With more international components from Ukraine, Italy, South Korea, Hong Kong, Belgium, France, and Italy, there also are two professional program elements planned this year.

TiBE’s own “Do the Rights Thing” on Wednesday (February 1) looks at small markets working in the international rights-trading sphere. Moderated by Publishing Perspectives, that program features:

  • Isabella Wu, chair of the Taipei Book Fair Foundation
  • Karolina Jaszecka, whose agency in Barcelona is focused on Polish work, Ka Books Agency
  • Gray Tan, founder of Taipei’s Grayhawk Agency
  • Benas Berantas, whose Book Smugglers Agency is located in Lithuania

Image: TiBE

A Thursday (February 2) highlight features a cooperative presentation with Frankfurter Buchmesse of speakers on the theme of “How To Thrive in Times of Crisis” and featuring Robert Schefenacker, Linda Tan Lingard, Karthika V.K., Randy Anthony, and Naomi Bacon of the Tandem Collective.

We’ll have more coverage ahead from here in Taiwan.

More from us on Taiwan and its market is here, and more on the Taipei International Book Exhibition is here. More from Publishing Perspectives on Frankfurter Buchmesse and its international programming such as the Frankfurt Publishers Training Program is hereMore from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted the Taipei program and so many other world book fairs, 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.