The reading public and literary types have been flocking to the 2013 Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE) ever since the five-day fair opened its doors on Wednesday. At the Comics and Animation Pavilion, the crowds are mostly teenagers and twenty-somethings checking out the various booths, queuing for autograph sessions with popular authors and scooping up souvenirs and new publications.
And although Belgium, home to Tin Tin and the Smurfs, is this year’s featured country, Japanese titles and publishers are the most visible — reflecting for some the sad reality that Japan’s publishers dominate Taiwan’s anime and comic book market.
Indeed, discontent and friction within the industry has been building for years. It reached a denouement when members of the Taiwan-based Chinese Animation and Comic Publishers Association (CCPA, 中華動漫出版同業協進會), which has over 60 members (publishers and bookstores) representing 80 percent of the annual NT$2 billion domestic comic book market, pulled out of the exhibition.
CCPA secretary-general Kao Shih-chuang (高世樁) said that the association will organize its own exhibition, the Taipei Comics and Animation Festival, from Feb. 14 to Feb. 18.
“From now on, we will be independent from TIBE,” Kao told the Taipei Times.
Cartoons, comic books and associated products, have a strong market presence in Taiwan, with the comic pavilion accounting for close to 50 percent of total attendees and revenue.
When contacted by the Taipei Times, Summer Hsia (夏若雲), the media liaison for the Comics and Animation Pavilion and senior project curator for the Taipei Book Fair Foundation (TBFF), the official organizer for TIBE, said that they wouldn’t be affected by CCPA pulling out of the book fair. Hsia added it would prove an ideal opportunity to promote cultural exchanges between Taiwanese comic creators and their counterparts in foreign countries.
Hsia said there was a difference of opinion on the dates of the exhibition.
“CCPA members wanted to hold the book fair after the Lunar New Year, when people have more leisure time and kids have some money to spend. It’s all due to scheduling, as TIBE normally falls after the Lunar New Year. At times, we have the book fair before it, like this year. So CCPA decided to organize their own, targeting the dates after the Lunar New Year,” Hsia said.
She added that limited exhibition space at Taiwan World Trade Center (TWTC), where TIBE is held, is limited even though it’s spread over three halls.
“This will be the final year for Hall 2. The Comics and Animation Pavilion will be moved to Nangang Exhibition Hall next year,” she said.
Meanwhile, back at the Comics and Animation Pavilion, TIBE organizers are focusing on reading and eating pleasures, recreating stories and scenes from comic series that center on chefs at work, cooking and various snacks.
The Taipei International Book Exhibition runs until tomorrow night. Admission is NT$100. On the Net (Chinese and English): www.tibe.org.tw/new