The International Hall continues to be a hub of activity on day three of the Beijing Book Fair. While large houses such as HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin, Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Cengage, and Macmillan are going about solidifying their presence with more deals, the medium, small and independent presses are gathering new insights on the Chinese book market and carving out their own piece of the pie.
For American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, its recent five-book deal with China Aviation Industry Press marked the start of its translation program. China is currently its second biggest Asian market (after Japan) and sales account manager Adrian Fair, a second-timer at BIBF, is “expecting more growth as a result of the country’s ambitious space program and aerospace development. I’m staying back after the event to visit existing clients as well as to make several cold calls.”
Over at U.K.-based Ivy Press, group managing director Stephen Paul said sales in China for 2005 and 2006 were partly driven by photography titles, especially those by renowned photographer Michael Freeman. Paul has co-published more than 60 titles with local partners so far, and he finds Chinese publishers very keen on exports. “I have not bought any local title yet. Our main focus remains on producing co-editions where we can capitalize on economies of scale and better pricing through large multilingual print run as opposed to copyright sales.”
As for Berlin-based de Gruyter, Continental Europe’s largest humanities and social sciences publisher, its presence in China since the late 1980s has produced a list of collaborators that reads like the who’s who of the Chinese publishing world. Best known in China – now its third-largest export market after the U.S. and Japan -- for linguistics and mathematics titles (in English edition), the company is now busy promoting original German collections such as those by Kant and Nietzsche. “Our new multi-volume series on Latin and Greek inscriptions have also attracted a lot of interest and we just sold them to a prominent Chinese university,” says area sales manager Michael Annecke, who is working with Ian Taylor Associates to obtain new contacts for co-publishing deals. “The goal is to repeat my 2009 record in which China contributed the biggest chunk of the sale.”
Over at London-based Verso, sister company of New Left Review, an offer to buy the rights to all new titles displayed at its booth yesterday had rights manager Tania Palmieri lost for words. “We publish about 50 to 60 new titles annually and more than 60% of our list is available in Chinese. Slovenian Slavoj Zizek of First as Tragedy Then as Farce and In Defense of Lost Causes is our best author here, and his latest, Living in the End Times, was sold just before this fair started.” Now for Palmieri’s not-so-good story: One chapter (on Taiwan) was deleted from the Chinese edition of Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities without Verso’s knowledge or prior consent. “For the new edition due out later in the year, the local publisher will include the original table of content and mention the missing chapter in the preface. And to prevent a repeat of such incident, we now have a clause in the contract asking partners to inform us of changes made to the translated edition.”
Next door, at Thames & Hudson, international rights manager Nicola Lewis does a quick comparison between BIBF 2002 (of her first visit) and 2010 (her second). “The translation market has developed significantly and communication, aided by email, is so much easier as more English is spoken by locals. I also see increased international presence in a much bigger fair too. There are certainly more large-format titles and illustrated books on display. The trade segment seems to be enjoying a steep growth here.” A case in point: T&H’s photography book Magnum Magnum attracted so much attention at the fair that offers have rolled in from ten publishing houses. “It makes for an exciting visit, and you can be sure that I will come back next year.”
At the end of the third day, v-p Jon Malinowski of the American Collective Stand is already looking forward to the next BIBF. “We have received half a dozen enquiries from American publishers wanting to participate in the 2011 event and some from existing Combined Exhibit clients wishing to double their display area.” Adds president Janet Fritsch, “This fair will be moving to the New China International Exhibition Center – a brand-new state-of-the-art facility near the Beijing Capital Airport -- and we look forward to seeing the same level of enthusiasm and support from participants and visitors alike come August 31, 2011.”