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2019 TIBE Another Success, Germany Featured, and 2020 Korea

April 18, 2019 Exhibitions No Comments Email Email

The 2019 Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE) concluded on February 17, successfully showcasing Taiwan’s impressive reading energy and featuring the literary works of Germany. A total of 52 countries and 735 publishing companies were present for the 6-day exhibition, Asia’s largest cultural publishing event. The 27th TIBE featured pavilions with top 10 innovations and top 10 themes, as well as more than 1,184 exciting reading activities. It brought together popular writers from all over the world, as well as local readers and writers. At the closing press conference, it  was announced that Korea would be the next country featured at 2020 TIBE, as a way to welcome the intelligent country built on education.

International Praise, Reunion, and Exploration

“You know, I have not been to Taipei for more than ten years. This time I feel that Taipei’s air quality has improved and everything is different. My heart is racing from the warm atmosphere at the exhibition… I really want to visit my old apartment on Songjiang Road. Maybe if I open the door, the owner will welcome me with open arms?” mused Miriam Merkel. Known as Germany’s youngest and most beautiful government spokesperson  and as a representative for the new generation of intellectuals, Miriam Merkel returned to Taipei after her time as a student there. Eyes brightened, she raved “walking into Taipei International Book Exhibition is like coming home….”

Markus Zusak expressed similar sentiments. The Australian writer returned after 13 years and is on a world tour to promote his new book The Bridge of Cray. “In a world where speed and efficiency are everything, where questions must be answered right away, readers from Taiwan stand out. They enjoy the reading process, are willing to wait and appreciate the beauty of a story. They are not just looking forward to page 10 for the ending.”

Germany is a star-studded European country, providing a bright spark for cultural exchange at TIBE. Not only did their discussion sessions fill up quickly, the artistic Bauhaus theater became a photo Mecca for visitors of all ages. There were interesting sidenotes at the exhibition every day, like when a Taiwanese fan brought nine worn-out multicolored books of the thriller king Sebastian Fitzek to a book signing, Mr. Fitzek was greatly moved and immediately signed them with his autograph.

13 heavy-weight German writers came to TIBE and were impressed by the interactive atmosphere at the exhibition, soon becoming star-chasing fans themselves. A member of the press and biographer Ronen Steinke, who has long been interested in Middle East and transitional justice topics, bought all of the works of master illustrator Axel Scheffler in the German Pavilion on the very first day. He then quietly waited for Axel Scheffler to sign them. What’s more, in the presence of master storyteller Ferdinand von Schirach, all of the German writers were waiting in line as if on pilgrimage. TIBE is more than a meeting place for international writers, it is a reading paradise where miracles take place.

Taipei International Book Exhibition: Filled with Energy and Future

In just one day of the exhibition, 100 selected works that were winners of the German Book Prize and Juvenile Literature Award were sold out! The president of Sunny Publishing, Mei-Ling Liu, enthusiastically shared her observation of the exhibition with Germany as the theme country: “It might be hard to believe, but this year’s best-selling German book is Martial Law, New Literature in Taiwan. We usually think France is the only European country to have a strong influence on Taiwan. In fact, Taiwan and Germany share many of the same values and social issues. Both are prolific readers of books with deep knowledge. Take the many forums as examples, questions from Taiwanese readers are mostly about politics, technology, AI, social values, and not about food, clothing, and day-to-day living. For the German writers, they were surprised to have the chance to experience different voices, conversations, and visions in Taipei.”

Making its debut in Taiwan, CNRS Editions from the National Center for Scientific Research (equivalent to Taiwan’s Academia Sinica) mainly had publications in humanities, culture, and popular science. The Center previously could not attend TIBE with exhibition dates so close to Livre Paris and the London Book Fair. This time they made it to Taiwan and were surprised by the openness of the island’s readers and their strong interests in all kinds of new scientific works. “Most countries focus on the classics in French history, humanities, science, and other academic specialties. Publishing companies in Taiwan are different in that everyone is very interested in the future and application of popular science. This makes us look forward to coming back to Taipei!” said their representative.

“I think children’s book publishing in Taiwan is very vibrant with great examples of illustrations. The location [Taiwan] is very well suited to become a hub for the children’s book industry in Asia and a regional leader,” mentioned Grazia Gotti, consultant for the Ragazzi Children’s Book Award at Bologna Book Fair. Although obviously tired from the full schedule of meetings and conferences, Grazia’s love and praise for TIBE did not diminish.

I-Oo Joo, executive director of the Korean Publishers Association from the next 2020 TIBE theme country, invited two of Korea’s top social knowledge and conscience writers, Jeong-Eun Hwang and Ah-Ram Sohn, to the Literary Beauty from Society, Social Power from Literature session in the Blue Salon. The warm-up cultural event from the upcoming theme country stressed the importance of publishing freedom, publishing diversity, and reading experience for both Taiwan and Korea. “We are on the same page,” noted Iroo Joo, saying he has full confidence in the future of TIBE and welcomes the public’s expectations for Korea in 2020.

Source: Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE)

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