The Asia International Book Fair may be the new kid on the block of Asian fairs. But as it wrapped up its second consecutive year during the week of April 24, it was clear that the annual trade book show has already given the region some much-needed exposure, sparking a broad conversation about emerging trends in the Pacific Rim.
This year the fair brought together over 360 participating companies from 24 countries. The AIBF and International Library Expo were also held in conjunction with the Publishing and Library Asia Conference (PAL Asia) and the Emerging Trends in Library and Archival Services (e-tlas) show. The key focus this year was on — you guessed it — emerging technologies and the opportunities and challenges of the knowledge-based economy. The schedule included tech gurus such as Pearson advisor Carlos Alcazar, speaking on the travails of international distribution and reviewing a partnership model that Pearson Broadband hopes to roll out for its international expansion using local partners. Other events on the roster included a primer on the formidable retailing concept known as the “modern lifestyle bookstore” from Kenny Chan, merchandising division manager for Kinokuniya. Of course, in a printed statement on “DBooks and Libraries,” Dean Mason, business development manager for Australia’s Common Ground Publishing, minced no words about the cosmic fate awaiting us all: “The mass market of book production and distribution, as we have seen it evolve since the 1950s, is collapsing in on itself, facing its entropic destiny.” To stave off impending doom, he promoted the concept of libraries as “centres of publishing excellence” that combine online, multilingual publishing tools and print-on-demand technologies, all funneled through a library’s localized physical and digital resources.
The fair also launched an online rights center and appointment scheduler, while another highlight was the International Board on Books for Young People gallery, where IBBY Honor List books were displayed to encourage international understanding through children’s literature. All in all, AIBF seems to have made the leap from a library-oriented event to global coverage of a wide variety of media and markets. Stay tuned as the event keeps reinventing itself as the reference show for Asia.
We thank Shirley Hew and Leona Oh, both of Times Media Pte Ltd., for their contribution to this report.