Thu, Jan 24, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Reading Germany

This year’s Taipei International Book Exhibition, which begins on Feb. 12, will focus on the German experience of transitional justice

By Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Dung Kai-cheung (董啟章), Malaysia’s Zhang Guixing (張貴興) and Taiwan’s Lo Yi-chin (駱以軍) took home the TIBE Book Prize for fiction. Their winning books are Beloved Wife (愛妻), Wild Boars Crossing the River (野豬渡河) and The Hole (匡超人), respectively.

Two of the three winners in the non-fiction category wrote books based on field research. As the book’s title suggests, Chen Chao-ju’s (陳昭如) Gloomy Country: Love and Sex of People with Disabilities (幽黯國度:障礙者的愛與性) discusses an often unspoken subject, while A-po (阿潑, pen name for Annpo Huang, 黃奕瀠) After the Disaster: Anthropological Points of View (日常的中斷:人類學家眼中的災後報告書) tells the stories of earthquake victims in Indonesia, China and Japan after the cameras and news crews have left.

Hsieh Kai-te (謝凱特, pen name for Hsieh Chih-wei, 謝智威) also received the TIBE Book Prize for nonfiction for his debut book His Gay Son (我的蟻人父親), in which he shares his personal experience of growing up gay in Taiwan.

In the editor’s category, the TIBE Book Prize recognized Gusa Press’s (八旗文化) Joshua Wang (王家軒) for his focus on international affairs.

This year, art publications dominated the Golden Butterfly Award given for book design. Artist Huang Po-chih (黃博志) won the gold prize for Five Hundred Lemon Trees (五百棵檸檬樹), a book that walks readers through a tree-planting project he began in 2013 that culminated in a solo exhibition at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

Design studio Mistroom’s (霧室) Huang Jui-i (黃瑞怡) and Peng Yu-jui (彭禹瑞) won the silver prize for Aroma Island (氣味島), an “aromatic map of Formosa” published by Yiri Living (伊日美學生活). Designer Liu Ming-wei (劉銘維) won the bronze prize for Industrial Research Institute of Taiwan Governor-General’s Office (台灣總督府工業研究所), a catalog for an exhibition at Liang Gallery (尊彩藝術中心).

MORE THAN SALES AT STAKE

Now in its 27th edition, TIBE may find itself under more pressure than ever to succeed. Last year, the foundation reported a 8.6 percent decline in visitor numbers from 2017.

Statistics fluctuate, but what cannot be dismissed are years of anxiety that the best days are over for the publishing industry.

There is no shortage of articles online based on the same rhetoric — that Gen Zers admire YouTube celebrities more than Harper Lee or J. K. Rowling, and that millennials don’t read.

But whoever or whatever you blame for the decline in book sales and reading, don’t blame the readers, Chao says.

“We blame [ourselves] for not [publishing] books that readers want to read. We blame ourselves for not bringing the value of books to the reader’s attention,” he said.

Still, Chao says the publishing industry is at a crossroads. If book sales continue to fall, authors will be disinclined to write books that don’t sell, and, even if they do, publishers won’t print them, he says.

“Those books would disappear, and the diversity [of Taiwan’s publishing industry] would be damaged,” he said.

Comparing the arrival — and irreversibility — of the digital age to the industrial revolution, Chao says the questions we must ask ourselves next are: Is digital all we need? Is social media all we need?

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