On the second day of TIBE (Taipei International Book Fair), the traffic built up significantly after most Taipei residents returned to town at the end of the Chinese New Year holidays. Queues for tickets were long and local publishers did a steady business. For overseas publishers, “boring” and “free” are definitely not on the vocabulary for this fair.
For PW, it is highly unusual to find an arts-and-craft publisher at TIBE, and even more so when the publisher originates from France. “This is our first TIBE, and our rights department was created only one year ago,” said rights manager Caroline Gaucher of Les Editions de Saxe, one of the leading French publisher in this segment. “I find that Taiwanese readers are more interested in crafts dealing with masking tapes and embroidery, for instance, while European markets are more biased towards crocheting and knitting. These are unique market characteristics that our company needs to know and be aware of. So you can say that I am on a mission to look out for new ideas from this fair and this region, and bring them back to France so that we can expand our publications and tweak content to suit different markets.”
For APA (American Psychological Association), its second TIBE outing is mostly to sell its databases and bibliographic content (through Taiwanese partner FlySheet) and to identify and develop new content for the region. “We are also here to disseminate knowledge of psychological science and practice, and to partner with similar associations in Taiwan and in this region,” said Peter Gaviorno, senior director for sales, licensing, marketing and exhibitions, who has recently dissolved an exclusive regional distribution partnership in favor for more market- and discipline-specific partners. “We are very open to exploring opportunities with small companies or start-ups that have a lot of entrepreneurial spirit -- and we are finding a lot of such outfits in Taiwan.”
For senior director Julia Frank-McNeil at APA, the number of teenagers and young readers attending the fair bodes well for Taiwan’s book market. “It is heartening to see that, and I must say that this is such a physically pleasing fair with wide aisle and open spaces. It is equally encouraging for me to see a lot of our children’s titles selling well here.”
Over at the first-ever Lengua Espanola Pavilion, economic assistant Fernando Schmidt from the Taipei-based Chilean Trade Office was thrilled to be at the fair. “We are here to engage with local publishers who have already translated Chilean authors such as Isabel Allende, Roberto Bolano, Pablo Neruda and Roberto Ampuero, and to foster more rights sales. Titles from Pablo Simonetti -- the current top Latino writer with works mostly in the political and LGBT genres such as Pride of Youth – would work here because Taiwanese readers are very open to new ideas and different themes.” Books that have been turned into movies sell very well here as well, noted Schmidt.
Over at Random House Australia, rights manager Nerrilee Weir, an eight-time TIBE attendee, enthused about the fair and its organizer, and found the focus on the Spanish language market to be most timely and useful. “I am seeing a lot of interest in illustrated titles especially cookbooks for the very first time. It seems like there is now a great focus on cooking at home as a healthier option to dining out.” Nonfiction books that are more philosophical or based on business ideas have been much more successful since the last TIBE while fiction has been difficult, she added. “Overall, Taiwanese readers are going for more literary titles than commercial fiction, and dark and gory crime and thriller titles such as those from Paul Cleave are becoming popular. No one seems to want romance titles here as Taiwanese readers have their own favorite romance authors and their loyalty is immense. As for picture books, there is hardly any request for it. The children’s book market here is saturated with picture books and it is very hard for any new titles to get attention.”
Meanwhile, director Anne de Lautour of Publishers Association of New Zealand praised TIBE in facilitating closer collaboration between her publishers and those from Taiwan through special reception and matchmaking sessions on the eve of the fair. “There have been a lot of efforts from TIBE to help raise the awareness and profile of our writers and works, and our stand has been getting busier every year since we appeared at this fair for the first time in 2011 with a small booth.”
De Lautour is looking forward to next year’s TIBE (scheduled to run from January 28 to February 2), where New Zealand will take its turn as the guest of honor. Plans are already afoot to showcase 12 to 15 companies, with equal number of trade and educational publishers. Naturally, project manager Ka Meechan and de Lautour will be applying their experience as the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair guest of honor. “We will be working with authors, translation bodies, government agencies and artistic bodies to bring about an exciting program. It is very exciting for us, being such a small book market, to be given this opportunity to showcase our works and writers.”