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Reading the future

Time:2018-07-27   Source:China Daily


Kong Dongmei, late chairman Mao Zedong's granddaughter, presents at the Shenzhen expo for the release of her book, Mao Zedong Mottos. [PHOTO BY MEI JIA/CHINA DAILY]

The National Book Expo recently returned to Shenzhen after a gap of around 20 years, rekindling memories, Mei Jia reports.

In the past 20 years, Shenzhen has continuously been the top buyer of books in the country in terms of the annual amount of books bought per capita, the city's Party chief, Wang Weizhong, said at the opening ceremony of the 28th National Book Expo on July 19.

In 1996, when the 7th National Book Expo was held in the city, people flocked to buy books and the venue got so crowded that it had to be closed. And an old photo shows the glass door of the venue with a poster which says "Please come tomorrow" even as the crowd lingered on, unwilling to leave.

Veteran publishers remember that year's session as a very successful one.

After that, Shenzhen became the first Chinese city to hold Reading Month events to promote reading, leading the way for other cities.

The recent four-day event featured more than 800 publishers, 1 million copies of books and 427 events, including the China Publishing Group Corp's Readers Conference with writers like Cao Wenxuan and Lu Nei, as well as Hong Kong-based designer and writer Ouyang Yingji in attendance.

The expo attracted 450,000 visitors and saw retail business totaling 81 million yuan ($11.97 million) as it became the first national book expo to sell books directly to visitors.


The cartoon character Kumamon promotes books at China Citic Press' stall. [PHOTO BY MEI JIA/CHINA DAILY]


At the expo, readers were seen paying with their smart phones. And a prototype of a smart bookstore was showcased.

The smart bookstore comes in many sizes that can be customized, and it's unmanned, says a staff member from the Shenzhen Publication and Distribution Group.

Zhuang Rongwen, director of the State Administration of Press and Publication, says: "The main site of the expo was turned into a grand reading room of some 50,000 square meters.

"And the expo is a vivid example of how far we've come and how successful we have become in the past 40 years."

Zhuang also spoke about innovation and integration in publishing with regard to content, channels, platforms and management. Now it's common to see some of the new titles released in print, digital and audio versions.

"But content is the core, and it is where the competitiveness in publishing really lies," he says.

Meanwhile, besides the new developments, the expo also focused on traditional books.

Book designer Zhang Xiaodong from the Begonia Season Bookmaking Studio showcased an ancient book-binding technique and exhibited his work in the main hall of the expo.

"It (the technique) is called dragon-scale binding. And we lost track of it for many years until we saw it in one book stored in the Palace Museum," says Zhang, adding he and his team spent three years to make all the 217 pages of Diamond Sutra flow and dance like a dragon.

Some titles at the event

The Liang jiahe Village

The book is about President Xi Jinping's years in the village in Shaanxi province where the 15-year-old lived and worked with the villagers.

The publisher says the book is a result of more than 20 trips to Liangjiahe, and 45 revisions of the draft, based on interviews and files from archives.

Yan Xiaohong, a senior publishing official, says he discovered how Xi walked to neighboring Sichuan province to learn how to build a marsh-gas tank.

The book has 40 photos, and has sold 3.5 million copies since its launch in May. An English version will be released soon.

China's 40 Years of Reform and Opening-up

The China Party History Press has launched a new series of seven volumes on the country's economy, politics, culture, society, international relations and Party building during the 40 years of reform and opening-up.

Yang Fengcheng, a professor with Renmin University, says that, besides the achievements, the authors also look at the problems the country faces.

The book is a historical narration from many witnesses, says Yang. All material is from files that have been made public.

Let's Read: For the Rural Libraries in the Mountains and Fields


[Photo provided to China Daily]

Zhang Shusen gives up a doctor's job to stay in his hometown, a village deep in the grassland in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, to manage a small reading house.

Han Xieyu, a 12-year-old boy who uses a wheelchair, finds escape in the books he borrows from his village library.

Writers Li Donghua and Xu Lu feature 17 stories like this about people whose everyday lives are brightened by 587,000 rural libraries in the country.

Xu Zechen Novellas and Stories

Xu Zechen, who was born in 1978-the year when the reform and opening-up began-is a representative writer of his generation. And the 35 stories in his three-volume collection record his writing career of 21 years.

"A great work is the one that focuses on core emotions and problems of a certain era with core language," says Xu, adding he finds his "hometown", "Beijing" and "the world" are three of his major channels to explore the core literature of the time.

Where's My Home

The book-about penguins and global warming-uses a technology that is typically not used in printed books.

The Penguin Frozen Book is printed with a type of special ink that melts and disappears when the temperature is more than 20 C.

A touch can change the color on the book. And the interaction reminds readers-children and adults-about the environment.

The Chinese book has caught the attention of foreign publishers.