Thu, Feb 17, 2005 - Page 15 News List

Asia's largest book exhibition opens new chapter in its history

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE, 台北國際書展) opened the 13th chapter in its history earlier this week with a bevy of international and local publishing houses once again temporarily transforming The Taipei World Trade (TWTC) into Asia's biggest bookstore.

Organized by the Taipei Book Fair Foundation (TBFF, 財團法人台北書展基金會), -- a foundation that is jointly managed by 18 of Taiwan's leading publishing houses -- and under the auspices of the Government Information Office (GIO, 新聞局), the annual event has grown to become the world's fourth largest book fair since its conception in 1987.

This year 877 publishing houses representing 40 countries are displaying their tomes in 2,099 booths at all three of the TWTC's exhibition halls. Although this number is slightly down from last year, which saw 925 publishing houses representing 51 countries vying for attention from the nation's multitude of bookworms, organizers don't expect this minor drop in numbers to discourage visitors.

According to Rex How (郝明義), Chairman of the TBFF, the foundation has spent the last eight months preparing to make this year's book exhibition better than ever before.

In order to achieve this goal the TBFF, which has been awarded the rights to host the annual event until 2007, has created what it has dubbed "a multi-functional book fair." The TBFF's plan incorporates aspects of interest to both publishing industry insiders as well as individual readers.

"TIBE will be different this year as we have created a book show that reaches out to both the publishing industry and the reader," said How. "We will be promoting global publishing exchanges, at which publishers will be able to interact on a commercial basis, while at the same time encouraging the public to learn about the cultural and social characteristics of other Asian nations through print."

Under the slogan "Gateway to the Publishing Markets of Asia," TIBE 2005 will focus on establishing cultural exchanges between Asian nations and positioning itself as a "gateway" for Western publishing houses that wish to learn about Asian publishing trends to enter the Asian publishing market.

The first country to be honored in this new arena is South Korea, which, according to How, was chosen because it shares many of the same social and religious facets as Taiwan.

A total of 15 South Korean publishing houses are participating in this event and are housed under one roof at the exhibition's aptly named Korea Pavilion. Here visitors with an interest in all things Korean can enjoy exhibitions and seminars focusing on Korean culture, history and social trends.

In addition to the lectures there will also be displays of Korean martial arts, screenings of several award-winning South Koran movies, drama performances and even Korean cookery presentations.

The second aspect of TBFF's new strategy for TIBE is to promote what it calls "Publishing Expertise." Aimed at attracting both industry insiders as well interested members of the general public, TBFF has organized a series of seminars, speeches and discussions to be hosted by publishing houses, authors and illustrators.

Those invited to hold lectures at TIBE 2005 include representatives of Reader's Digest, Director Peter Wang and well-known thriller writer Lawrence Block.

The third and most generally public-friendly aspect of the new TIBE format is labeled "Reading Life." While children's books have always featured at previous TIBEs, the category has been given its very own exhibition hall for the first time.

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