The annual Taipei International Book Exhibition opened yesterday, giving visitors the chance to view publications from 68 countries.
“This year’s theme is not a single country, but Asia,” Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said at a pre-opening event on Tuesday, referring to the exhibition’s focus on four countries — Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand.
“We often know more about the US and Europe, which are [geographically] farther away from us, than we know about other countries in Asia,” Lung said.
“The focus on Asia this year should help us better understand our neighbors,” she said.
At the same event, Asia Pacific Publishers Association (APPA) president Eric Yang announced that Taiwan is to become a member country of the association, which is a co-organizer of the exhibition.
During the opening ceremony yesterday, Lung said the first annual Taipei International Book Exhibition was held in 1987 — the year that martial law was lifted in Taiwan.
The exhibition is now in its 22nd year, and the number of participating countries has increased from 11 in the first edition to 68 this year, she said.
The APPA main theme section features South Korean children’s books from 10 publishers chosen by the Korean Publishers Association as well as 462 titles selected by the Japan Book Publishers Association to showcase the Japanese concept of “cool” and “beauty.”
In addition, 500 titles from 22 publishers and an illustration exhibition featuring the works of 15 young Thai artists are being displayed by the Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand.
Another special feature of this year’s exhibition is the participation of several independent bookstores across the nation.
“We focused on creating the atmosphere [of the independent bookstore section] to make readers feel that they are walking into a bookstore, not a hypermarket,” said Liao Ying-liang (廖英良), secretary-general of an independent bookstore culture association.
“When people walk into a bookstore, they can participate in other activities other than buying books,” he said.
“If they visit [independent] bookstores more frequently, I think it would be a great help for these bookstores,” he said.
The exhibition runs until Monday at the Taipei World Trade Center’s Hall 1 and Hall 3.