With the third China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair (CCBF) four months away, the fair organizers have been busy expanding the program to reflect a growing Chinese market for international titles.
Increased interest in China’s children’s book market, says CCBF fair director Randy Wang, “is evident not just at CCBF itself but also in other developments taking place in the publishing industry.” To meet this demand, Wang says, the fair has opened the Chen Bochui Children’s Book Award to international publishers, added a Young Illustrators Competition, and expanded the Shanghai Visiting International Publishers [VIP] Fellowship, “to increase collaboration, understanding and communication between Chinese children’s book industry and its overseas counterparts.”
Established in 1981, the Chen Bochui Children’s Book Award was named after the father of modern Chinese children’s literature, who was widely regarded as the “Hans Christian Andersen of the East.” He donated his life savings of 55,000 yuan (or $8,900) to establish the award, which is now administered by the Chen Bochui Literature Foundation. It is China’s first and longest-running literature award.
This year, the Chen Bochui Award for Best International Children’s Picture Book offers prize money of 20,000 yuan (or $3,300). Picture books published from January 2014 onwards are eligible for submission until September 9 through the CCBF website.
“The award today reflects how the Chinese market has changed,” Wang says. “Picture books are hot and the segment is growing fast, with more imported content being enjoyed by young readers and their parents.” For international publishers with new titles entering the competition, he says that the opportunities are great. “Winning the award gives a huge sales boost through copyright trading, subsequent trade interest and improved distribution.”
The recent market in China has seen bestselling English series in translation, including The Magic School Bus (which sells upwards of four million copies per year), Goosebumps (with distributed copies exceeding 8.7 million copies), My First Discovery (six million copies sold) and Twilight (four million copies sold). Picture books with 3D plates and those with digital elements or content are also in great demand by China’s young readers. According to Beijing-based OpenBook, 50% of China’s top 100 bestselling titles in 2014 are children’s books.
The expanding market for picture books and illustrated titles has also motivated the CCBF to launch the inaugural Young Illustrators Competition this year. Illustrators of all nationalities between 18 and 39 years old are invited to submit their works; entry closes on September 4. Two winners – one from China and another from abroad – will be chosen from the 50 best submissions, which will be showcased at CCBF. Works by the 50 finalists will also be available online for the People’s Choice Award, in which trade and public visitors vote for their favorite illustrator; results will be announced on November 15.
The Shanghai VIP Fellowship, on the other hand, is designed to challenge the erroneous assumption that publishing international content in China is difficult. “Over a period of five days – from 10 to 14 November – we will tackle perceived obstacles such as language and cultural barriers,” Wang says, “and show publishers objectively how they can overcome them. Through observing, learning, and communicating directly with industry experts, opinion leaders, writers, and even young readers and their teachers, those taking part in the Fellowship have the chance to see all aspects of children’s publishing for themselves. In this way, we can help international publishers increase their share of the rapidly growing market of 300 million children under 16 years old.”
More than 30,000 visitors are expected at this year’s CCBF, which runs November 13–15, with companies such as Pearson, McGraw-Hill Education, Walker Books Group, Oxford University Press, Cengage/National Geographic, Atlantyca Entertainment (Italy), Child’s Play (U.K.), and DeAgostini (Italy) participating alongside a strong lineup of Chinese publishers. The fair will have several pavilions , including a Nordic Pavilion, Children’s Book USA, and a U.K. Pavilion (under the Publishers Association).
More details are available at the Fair’s website.