From promoting the Taipei International Book Exhibition and digital publishing to exploring overseas markets, the Government Information Office has been hard at work supporting publishers, retailers, and other players in Taiwan’s book industry.

For instance, it is introducing a four-year research program to help publishers adopt digital processes. With an annual budget of $1.2 million, one of its main activities is to implement a digital licensing mechanism. Sample sales contracts for digital rights and digital products are provided, as is training on copyright issues such as the use of orphan works and public domain assets.

Then there was the one-year Master in Publishing Management course that ran from 2003 to 2009 to nurture publishing professionals. “More than 3,000 people have benefited from it, and last year we started a digital publishing course to ensure that our industry keeps up with the changing publishing proposition,” says GIO minister Philip Yang. His office has been organizing workshops such as the International Comic Camp for people wishing to enter the comics industry. “We also sponsor the Golden Tripod and Golden Comic awards, with the aim of creating a healthy yet competitive publishing environment and raising industry standards by rewarding outstanding works.”

To promote the reading habit, the Excellent Reading Material Contest searches “for outstanding reading materials that we can produce and distribute to all primary schools and major bookstores,” adds Yang, who also worked with the Taipei Book Fair Foundation to create several reading campaigns during TIBE 2011. “There was the Taipei Literature Season to promote reading throughout the city, and theme fairs with Taipei Library to introduce different cultures. TIBE also arranged with Taiwan High Speed Rail to provide free transportation for residents in Tainan [300 kilometers to the south of Taipei] to visit the event. Additionally, GIO gave book vouchers for the fair to 35 secondary schools. All these activities are meant to broaden our schoolchildren’s reading horizons and cultivate their love for reading.”

More participation at international book events is also on GIO’s to-do list. “We want to help our publishers venture overseas and introduce our creative works and homegrown talents to the rest of the world, thereby increasing copyright trading. Last year, for instance, the Taiwan Pavilion at the Bologna Fair saw throngs of fans coming to meet illustrator/author Jimmy Liao. Events like this allow the international community to learn more about Taiwan’s culture and literature.”

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of TIBE, and Yang aims to take the event to new heights. “From a human perspective, ‘20’ symbolizes the transition into adulthood. When the first TIBE was held, in 1987, the goal was to be the largest book event in Asia. Today, my wish is for TIBE to become a showcase and forum for both Taiwan and overseas publishers, not only for exhibiting the latest ideas and products but also for creating more business opportunities and a space for exchanging ideas. We want to see future TIBEs having an equal number of traditional and digital products, complementing one another to create a vibrant industry.”