With American publishers tightening their marketing budgets, the U.S. Commerce Department is stepping up its efforts to help promote U.S. books abroad. The department's U.S. Commercial Service office recently held its first-ever catalogue exhibit at an international fair—it took titles from 54 small and medium-sized publishers to the Doha International Book Fair, Dec. 24—Jan.3. And earlier this month, the office coordinated the first U.S. Pavilion at the Taipei Book Fair (Feb. 4—9). More than 300 U.S. publishers sent some 1,000 books and related items to the fair, said Dawn Bruno, global publishing team leader and senior international trade specialist. In addition to showcasing the books, the pavilion set up computer kiosks to display e-books and other digital content.

Approximately 650 exhibitors and 400,000 visitors were expected at the Taipei show, and while final figures aren't available for the Doha fair, it was Qatar's largest book fair, Bruno said. The Doha and Taipei exhibits are only some of the services offered by the Commerce publishing team. The office has more than 40 domestic and international trade specialists who conduct market research and provide export assistance to publishers. According to Bruno, the office can help publishers identify key overseas markets, connect with qualified partners, sell rights and vet potential partners. Bruno emphasized that the office does not compete with commercial companies, but looks to fill openings that private companies don't find profitable. It mostly works with small and medium-sized publishers and has worked with the AAP and New York Center for Independent Publishing to get the word out about its services.

Where it can, Commerce offers its services for free; there was no charge to participate at Taipei since the space was free; the fee for the Doha fair was $100 per title. Bruno said that as a government agency, her department works on a “cost recovery” basis and charges publishers only for costs it incurs. The publishing team will have a booth at BEA. For more information about what Commerce can offer, contact Bruno at dawn.bruno@mail.doc.gov.