The six-day Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE), which wrapped up on June 7, was an in-person event after two years of virtual fairs.
Held amid a record wave of Covid-19 infections on the island (with nearly 77,000 new cases reported on the first day of the event), TIBE encapsulated the government’s new stance on phasing out its zero-Covid policy and in favor of living with the pandemic. A slew of protocols were enforced to protect fair exhibitors and attendees, including mandatory indoor mask-wearing, no drinking or eating inside the exhibition halls, temperature screenings, and walkthrough sanitization gates.
France returned as the guest of honor for a fourth time with about 80 publishers and 2,000 titles. There were special displays to mark the centennial of Marcel Proust’s death, present comic artist Emmanuel Lepage’s original works, and an exhibit of rare manuscripts from classical writers such as George Sand, Victor-Marie Hugo, and Alexandre Dumas.
Other fair highlights included a Hello 30! exhibit to commemorate 30 years of TIBE and a Nature Calls pavilion that introduced 18 plants and animals native to Taiwan as well as related children’s books to emphasize the importance of connecting with nature and reading in children’s daily lives.
Then there was the Stand with Ukraine display showcasing books and illustrations from Ukraine as well as publications on peace from Taiwanese publishers. International market development executive Valentina Butenko of Yakaboo, which is a publishing house that also operates the largest online book-selling platform in Ukraine, was at the fair to highlight publications on democracy, freedom, and human rights. Butenko also hosted two TIBE panels about Ukrainian books, culture, identity, and language.
This year’s TIBE, with “Reading and Publishing Beyond the Pandemic” as its theme, hosted over 250 events, 364 exhibitors from 31 countries, and 250,000 visitors, down from 580,000 visitors the last time TIBE was held in 2019. A total of 200,000 book coupons of NT$100 (or $3.40) each were distributed to visitors as a part of the governmental efforts to support the book industry.