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  • Aug 20, 2019
    Taipei International Book Exhibition: A Gathering Place for Publishers and Book Lovers Alike
    By Michelle Tu ∥ Translated by Sarah-Jayne Carver

    Every February, while most cities in Europe and North America are snowy and battling the cold, it’s flip-flop weather in Taipei, with comfortable temperatures and cherry blossoms blooming. The MRT makes it easy to get anywhere in the city, whether you want to head out to the green mountains in the suburbs, or enjoy the hot springs, visit museums, go for tea, or visit a temple. There’s delicious food, great places to wander around, fantastic shopping centres and all the cultural activities you could want.    

    With the incredible city and all the publishers visiting from around the world, the Taipei International Book Exhibition (TiBE) allows people to catch up with old friends, network with industry contacts, and attend thousands of literary events, all in a welcoming, easy-going atmosphere. Every year, it attracts internationally renowned authors such as Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian, Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winner Kitty Crowther, Hans Christian Anderson Award winner Lisbeth Zwerger, and the youngest ever winner of the Booker Prize Eleanor Catton, generating a tide of half a million visitors who make the fair feel like a carnival.  

    The Taipei Book Fair Foundation was co-founded in 2003 by 18 different-sized domestic publishers and various big names in the industry. Each year, the foundation organises the TiBE, which is hosted by the Ministry of Culture and actively encourages international cultural exchange, enhancing publishers’ skillsets and promoting reading in a wide variety of ways.

                                               

    Reading in the City: The TiBE and Reading Promotion

    The Taipei Book Fair Foundation starts gearing up for the coming year’s TiBE in about November and, as the Christmas bells ring, bookstores and art venues across Taiwan are buzzing with “Reading in the City” events. At the same time, there are Bookmobiles driving from Taipei, New Taipei City and Keelung to different corners of the island, bringing with them a huge range of writers’ events. Book lovers everywhere can use the “Maps for Reading in the City” to find events they want to attend and take the chance to meet authors and illustrators whose work they enjoy.

    For years, the national library’s “Winter Vacation Reading Manual” has acted as a publicity generator, letting children get to know more about that year’s TiBE guest of honour country. Children can also actively participate in events run by libraries which encourage them to read books from the guest nation.  

     

    Guided Tour for Children

     

    In recent years, the Taipei Book Fair Foundation has encouraged teachers to bring students of all ages to the fair, organising a range of recommended itineraries and challenges where they can win prizes. The most popular events of all are the guided tours of the international exhibits, where the students can get to know the local customs of the different countries. At the same time, the Ministry of Culture also subsidises transportation for children from rural areas to visit the book fair and works with the Taipei Book Fair Foundation to give each student a free book voucher. While the TiBE is on, there’s still a sea of student groups pouring in even during work hours, it makes for a great scene!

     

    Taking the TiBE to the Next Level

    To encourage local creation and book design in Taiwan, prizes are also awarded each year during the fair. The Taipei Book Fair Award is given to up-and-coming creatives, while the Golden Butterfly Prize is awarded for excellence in book production and design, and particularly outstanding works go on to compete at the Leipzig Book Fair for the “World’s Most Beautiful Book Award”.

    As well as encouraging local publishers with awards, the TiBE also invites industry leaders from around the world to Taiwan, and strives to inspire professional exchanges through the sharing of knowledge and greater interaction within the industry. Over the last six years, the TiBE has partnered with the Frankfurt Book Fair to produce training courses and a wide range of forums on digital publishing, children’s books, international publishing, book design, and corporate CEOs; as well as forums exploring the power of publishing in the face of dramatic changes in the publishing landscape, in accordance with annual trends and the different influences which develop each year.

     

    Guests of Honour: Promoting Publishing and Culture

    As with other global book fairs, each year the TiBE invites a country to be the fair’s guest of honour, focusing on significant authors and fostering the in-depth exchange of industry expertise on both sides. The guest nation often takes advantage of the opportunity to plan rich and unique cultural exhibitions, using their position at the fair to highlight their own national brand image.

    For example, Israel, which was founded as a country relatively recently, created an enticing Middle-Eastern style market in the middle of their national pavilion in 2018. In addition to selling fresh fruits, vegetables and Israeli wine, they also sold contemporary literary works and had a VR experience where visitors could see Israel’s fashionable architecture, which gave a refreshing image of the country’s culture. In 2011, the TiBE invited Bhutan, the world’s happiest country according to the World Happiness Index, to be the guest of honour. For this mysterious, mountainous country to agree to reveal their culture in this way was unprecedented, and they very carefully displayed the Heart Sūtra (Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya), which had never been overseas before, demonstrating the importance of the TiBE.

    In addition to promoting their own culture, the guest of honour’s activities are often linked to Taiwan. As a response to Taiwan’s love of Thai cuisine, the 2009 TiBE featured a special Thai kitchen serving fine food in a huge range of colours, flavours and smells, cleverly using lemon grass as a way to bring the cookery books to life by getting readers to connect with the smells. In 2013, the Belgian-themed national pavilion created a “Genius Inventor: Adolphe Sax” exhibition displaying musical instruments, which reflected Taiwan’s position as one of the top three saxophone manufacturers in the world. When New Zealand was the guest of honour in 2015, they focused on indigenous literature which is an equally important issue in Taiwan. The Nga Kete Tuku Iho Aboriginal dance group was invited to come to Taiwan and gave such a bold, hot-blooded performance that their stamping almost broke the floor of the exhibition hall!

  • Jul 27, 2019
    The Cradle of Taiwan’s Picture Book Creators: Hsin Yi Picture Book Award
    By Arni Liu ∥ Translated by Sarah-Jayne Carver

    Over 30 years ago, almost all of Taiwan’s picture books were translations from English and Japanese. There were very few local artists involved in the creation of picture books at the time, and if you walked into a bookstore it would have been difficult find a picture book featuring Taiwanese children. Under these circumstances, the Hsin Yi Foundation, which promotes reading in early childhood, established the Hsin Yi Picture Book Award in 1987 to encourage local creativity.

     

    In 1988, the inaugural award was won by Let’s Get Mung Beans, Momma! Today, it is a classic Taiwanese picture book, and the Hsin Yi Picture Book Award has become the country’s most important prize for original picture books. By the award’s 31st year, a total of 145 prizes have been awarded, 90 original works have been published, and more than 30 titles have been published in other languages.

     

    On My Way to Buy Eggs

     

    They include the 13th prize-winner, On My Way to Buy Eggs, which was featured in Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of the Year. Guji Guji, which won the 15th prize, has been translated into 15 languages, it won the Peter Pan Award in Sweden and the English edition topped the New York Times bestseller list. Guji Guji tells the story of a crocodile who grows up with a family of ducks after his egg rolls into a duck nest. One day, three malicious crocodiles find him and try to convince him to eat some ducks with them. The story, which deals with issues such as adoption, love, and identity, has become popular in many countries. It is filled with many dramatic twists and turns, and has been adapted for the stage in Sweden, New Zealand and Spain.

     

    Guji Guji

     

    For over thirty years, the award-winning titles have covered a huge range of different childhood experiences. Let’s Get Mung Beans, Momma! includes the processes of growing mung beans, cooking mung bean soup and making mung bean popsicles, which are common childhood memories for Taiwanese people. The book has a succinct writing style, but alongside the meticulous illustrations, it captures the friendliness of the grocery store and everyday life as mother and child, adding plenty of details for children to look at. In the sixth prize-winner, Spit the Seeds, a piglet accidentally swallows papaya seeds and starts to worry that a tree will grow out of his head, but then he imagines small birds building nests in the tree and people cool-off in its shade, which shifts his mood and fills him with anticipation. This humorous way of thinking not only makes children laugh, but also conveys the most precious characteristic of childhood: the power of imagination.

     

    Spit the Seeds

     

    Similarly, many of the books explore the power of childhood imagination. In On My Way to Buy Eggs, a young girl looks at the world through a blue glass bead and imagines that she is a fish in the ocean, then later she has a make-believe game where she pretends to be her mother talking to a shopkeeper. As School Library Journal said, “This universal tribute to the power of a child’s imagination will strike a familiar chord with dreamers everywhere.” The 14th prize-winner, I Really Want to Eat a Durian, features a small mouse that has never eaten durian and really wants to know what it tastes like, so he goes around asking other animals about it, resulting in all the animals in the forest wanting to eat durian. The small mouse represents a child, and the string of words illustrated in the sky above him, “I want to eat durian”, reflect the unabashed innocence of children. The imaginative scenarios depicted in these books are all from the perspectives of young children and reflect the purpose of the Hsin Yi Picture Book Award. Interestingly, Thailand, which produces a lot of durian, was the first overseas country to publish I Really Want to Eat a Durian.

     

    Some of the prize-winning works are demonstrations of local Taiwanese culture, such as the 27th winner, Little Peach, which tells the story of the Hakka rice cake; while in the winner of the 30th prize, A Busy New Year’s Eve, the adults are busily preparing for Chinese New Year, creating a fun atmosphere for children to learn about all kinds of New Year’s customs. The subject of the 20th winner, The Sword-Lion Who Lost His Sword, is a tradition from Tainan known as a sword-lion. With the blessing of his homeland, the sword-lion sets out to find the double-edged sword, but when it is nowhere to be found, the village residents ask the gods for a prophecy. The author incorporates folk beliefs into the highs and lows of the story, so that it is still enjoyable to read for children who aren’t familiar with the cultural background.

     

    The Sword-Lion Who Lost His Sword

     

    With time, we’ve also seen prize-winning works which have their fingers on the pulse of modern society. When stray dogs became a cause for concern in Taiwan, the 10th prize-winner, The Stray Dogs Around My House and I, featured a protagonist who took a different route to school to avoid stray dogs. The winner of the 20th prize, A Trip from the Zoo, has the animals tour Taipei by riding the subway; while in the 21st prize-winner, One Afternoon, the protagonist shows the reader around Taipei by bicycle; and Papa’s Red Umbrella, which also won the 21st prize, depicts sky lanterns in Pingxi. These works all portray a popular way of life in Taiwan today.

     

    A Trip from the Zoo

     

    Many of the winners have said that they started creating to participate in the prize, or that they compete in the prize every year. The award’s most significant achievement is that it has encouraged more people to create for children and supported many important creators of picture books, such as Chunlun Lee, Bei Lynn, Chen Chih-Yuan and Liu Hsu-Kung etc.

     

    The Hsin Yi Picture Book Award has captured Taiwan’s landscape and culture, through words and illustrations in the form of picture books. These books not only give children a local culture they can identify with, but let children across the world enjoy their charming stories.

  • May 10, 2019
    Translation Grant Program, Ministry of Culture, Republic of China (Taiwan)
    By Books from Taiwan

    Books from Taiwan supports the translation of Taiwanese literature into foreign languages with the Translation Grant Program, administered by The Ministry of Culture of Taiwan. The grant is to encourage the publication of translations of Taiwan’s literature, including fiction, non-fiction, picture books and comics, and help Taiwan’s publishing industry to explore non-Chinese international markets.

     

    •    Applicant Eligibility: Foreign publishers (legal persons) legally registered in accordance with the laws and regulations of their respective countries.


    •    Conditions:

    1. Works translated shall be original, published works (for example, fiction, non-fiction, picture books, and comics but not anthologies) by Taiwanese writers (Republic of China nationals) in traditional Chinese characters.

    2. Priority is given to works to be translated and published for the first time in a non-Chinese language market.

    3. Applicants are not limited to submitting only one project for funding in each application year; however, an applicant may only receive funding for up to three projects in any given round of applications.

    4. Projects receiving funding shall have already obtained authorization for translation, and be published within two years starting from the year after application year (published before the end of October).

     

    •    Funding Items and Amount

    1. Funds may cover licensing fees going to the rights holder of the original work, translation fees, and promotional fees (limited to an economy-class airline ticket for authors who are citizens of the Republic of China traveling abroad to attend promotional activities), and book production fees.

    2. The maximum funding available for any given project is NT$600,000 (including income tax and remittance charges).

    3. Priority consideration will be given to those works that have not yet been published in a language other than Chinese, as well as winners of a Golden Tripod Award, Golden Comic Award, or Taiwan Literature Golden Award (list appended.)


    •    Application Period: Twice every year. The MOC reserves the right to change the application periods, and will announce said changes separately. The first application period for 2019 is May 10 through June 10.


    •    Announcement of successful applications: Winners will be announced within three months of the end of the application period.


    •    Application Method: Please visit the Ministry’s “Books from Taiwan” (BFT) website (http://booksfromtaiwan.tw/), and use the online application system.


    For full details of the Translation Grant Program, please visit http://booksfromtaiwan.tw/grant_index.php
    Or contact: books@moc.gov.tw

     

    *Recommended Books for Translation Grant Program 

  • Jan 15, 2019
    When Two Worlds Collide: The Representation of Taiwan in International Collaborations of Picturebook Productions (II)
    By Liu Meng-ying

    International collaborations in picturebook creations about Taiwan are not few, and HongFei Cultures in France and Grimm Press in Taiwan are two of the most well-known publishing houses that dedicate in combining illustrators and writers from different cultures to create picturebooks. Both publishers provide fruitful creations of picturebooks of my interest.

    Some of the stories are adaptations of ancient texts, some of them are original creations that are drawn from the authors’ own experiences, some of them are new creations of fictional stories set in ancient time, and some are with cultural neutral backgrounds that can be located in anytime, anywhere. As the main focus of this article is intercultural collaborations, I first targeted on texts with strong cultural reference.

    After careful examinations, I narrowed down to one picturebook from each publisher, The Other End of the World (L’autre bout du monde, 2011) and Grandpa’s Toy Kingdom (爺爺的玩具王國, 2018). They are both written by the publishers themselves, illustrated by European artists, with realistic Taiwanese backgrounds, and have similar themes concerning the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren.

    The Other End of the World

    Written by Taiwanese author Yeh Chun-Liang and illustrated by French artist Sophie Roze, The Other End of the World is based on the writer’s own experience of childhood and his relationship with his grandma (Yeh, 2017). Langlang rides on a cruise with his mom to visit Grandma on a small island because she wants to give him a special gift for his first day of school.

    During the visit, Grandma plays games with Langlang and tells him lots of stories of the past. When Grandma was young, she learns from a teacher and has bounded feet like most young ladies from good families, but Fangfang couldn’t receive education and have bounded feet like everyone else because she needs to help her dad at work. Nevertheless, with the words learned from Grandma, she is able to travel to many cities, which makes Grandma envious. At the end of Langlang’s visit, Grandma gives him a pair of shoes with wings on the sides and tells him to go far and explore.

    Grandpa's Toy Kingdom

    Grandpa’s Toy Kingdom is written by Taiwanese author Hao Kuang-Tsa and illustrated by Italian artist Monica Barengo. The story talks about the relationship between a grandpa and his grandson. Xiao-Yu’s grandpa is an expert in toy-making, and Xiao-Yu enjoys his time with him. Among all these toys, Xiao-Yu loves spinning tops the most.

    When Xiao-Yu grows up and needs to leave home for his studies, he and Grandpa exchange the gifts of memory, which is—the spinning tops! As time goes by, Grandpa grows more and more forgetful and gradually forgets about his family. But he never forgets about the toys. Understanding his memories won’t serve him anymore, he tries to write down all that was left in his mind.

    However, as Xiao-Yu comes back and starts to make spinning top with Grandpa, the old Grandpa seems to be back. Grandpa then hands in the notebook he has been scribbling down to Xiao-Yu and says, ‘I know, by the time when Xiao-Yu comes back to see me, I might not be able to recognise him anymore. By the time when he comes back, please hand him my notebook. With these notes, Xiao-Yu would always see the old grandpa as he was!’

  • Jan 15, 2019
    When Two Worlds Collide: The Representation of Taiwan in International Collaborations of Picturebook Productions (I)
    By Liu Meng-ying

    Children’s texts that work across and between cultures are often seen in film and animations, and the animation Howl's Moving Castle is one obvious example (Bradford, 2011). The mix of culture can be seen ‘not only in terms of financing, producing and the composition of their cast and crew, but also in terms of the reach of their distribution, exhibition and reception’ (Lim, 2007: 39, cited in Bradford, 2011: 27). Similar situations can be seen in the production of the following two publishing houses with Taiwanese connection.

    Yeh, Chun-Liang (葉俊良) & HongFei Cultures (鴻飛文化)

    Born in Taiwan, Yeh went to France to study architecture. He started his publishing house, HongFei Cultures, with Loïc Jacob in 2007, and he first books they published are based on texts directly translated from Taiwanese authors. However, they found that readers with different cultural backgrounds might have different understandings and approaches; thus, Yeh decided to write his own stories for French children and make adaptions of stories from Chinese classics (Yeh, 2017: 54).

    In his most recent book, Yeh provides a detailed outline of his editing work. He describes the role of the editor as a bridge between readers and writers (ibid: 54-59). What’s more, he is aware of his own identity. As an Asian in France, people sometimes question Yeh’s stance in book publishing; he understands how this ignorance comes about and is willing to try to break some walls (ibid: 148-153).

    The publications of HongFei Cultures include the following collections: stories translated directly from Chinese or Taiwanese texts, ancient story adaptations, new stories created by Yeh, stories associated with Eastern culture but with French authors’ perspectives, and stories that have no connections with the East. With such broad topics, the core in Yeh’s publication is the true representation and true feelings (ibid: 65, 101-102).

    Yeh wants Western readers to have a glimpse of what Eastern culture is really like rather than only seeing what they have expected (ibid: 99-102). Moreover, the name ‘HongFei’ means a bird leaving its claw prints on the snow, and then flies away; Yeh doesn’t expect the books to move everyone and to be understood or loved by every reader, but he hopes that the books can make a little difference in the readers’minds just like the claw prints on the snow (ibid: 139).

    Hao Kuang-Tsai (郝廣才) & Grimm Press (格林文化)

    Hao founded his own publishing house, Grimm Press, in 1993 and aims to publish picturebooks that have ‘high artistic values’ (Grimm Press, 2011). He believes the ‘beautiful’ picturebooks can enhance children’s ability to appreciate artworks (ibid). Different from most publishing houses in Taiwan that publish either translated picturebooks or locally created texts, Hao combines foreign illustrations with local or traditional texts, creating picturebooks from different perspectives (ibid).

    Grimm Press was awarded the best children’s book publisher at Bologna Children’s Book Fair in 2014, and with numerous book prizes in Taiwan and globally (ibid). Besides, Hao has been invited as the judge of Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and with the tight connection with international creators and publishers, he is able to create new stories with different point of view (ibid).

    The original picturebooks that Hao publishes are mainly written by him and illustrated by international illustrators. However, only some of the texts have specific cultural references; other fairy-tale-like stories are somehow ‘Western’ with references like prince, princess, and other famous fairy tale characters.

  • Jan 14, 2019
    Jung and Farber: Partners in Crime (II)
    By Liu Chih-Yu ∥ Translated by Roddy Flagg

    A good crime story isn’t just about suspense: it portrays a society. The protagonist in Moses and the Ship of the Dead, which Jung is to publish in 2019, is a thoroughly German chief inspector: well-educated, meticulous, and punctual and polite to the point of being boring. Yet on arrival at a crime scene he is repeatedly mistaken for an assistant – because he is black. And with that particular perspective and an intriguing crime to solve, the novel shows there are subtler forms of racism than violence and abuse.

    Hideo Yokoyama’s 64 sounds like exactly the kind of book Germans aren’t keen on: long, slow and full of foreign names. No other publisher would touch it, but Jung added a stunning cover and sold the book as a window on contemporary Japanese society. In doing so he created a much-discussed success which spent four months on Germany’s crime bestselling list and was hailed by critics as “doing something no other crime novel has done.”

    After the success of 64, many people asking Jung when he’d decided to jump on the Asian crime bandwagon. He struggles to answer – as far as he is concerned, he did no such thing. It was only after the success of 64 that bookstores started to dedicate sections to “Asian Crime Fiction” – the trend didn’t exist when he bought it. “To force books on the public which they don’t want is the publisher’s most important and most wonderful mission,” said Jung, quoting another German publisher.

    And once a publisher decides what type of book to publish, how are the actual books found? Jung stressed again and again the importance of partnerships – in this case, partners in “crime”. It was US literary scout Kelly Farber who first recommended 64.

    Kelly, the All-Knowing Literary Scout

    Kelly Farber, often mentioned by Jung, finally had the opportunity to talk about her own work as a literary scout. It’s not a common job in Taiwan, but she summed it up as a form of consultancy. Her publisher clients, hailing from various time-zones and cultural backgrounds, look to her for the latest intelligence on the US book market, recommendations and market analysis, and help reaching out to rights holders and closing deals.

    The need to stay on top of the latest first-hand info mean literary scouts spend much of their time talking to editors, trying to figure out what manuscripts are being considered. Sometimes an editor will voluntarily send over a manuscript he or she would like a scout’s opinion on, and a nod of approval from a scout can be an important indicator of potential success internationally and help rights sales.

    A literary scout’s job is not, as some people think, to read all day. Most of their working day is spent on the phone and replying to emails. At most they read short outlines of non-fiction books, with novels read at home in the evenings. Four manuscripts a week is the norm.

    Kelly also pointed out that book markets are becoming polarized – well-known authors with a clear political stance are more popular. Fiction is becoming harder to sell, but in Spain fiction sells twice as much as non-fiction. So don’t give up, she says: it’s a tough market, but there can be good news where you least expect it.

  • Jan 14, 2019
    Jung and Farber: Partners in Crime (I)
    By Liu Chih-Yu ∥ Translated by Roddy Flagg

    The Taipei Rights Workshop is an annual highlight for local editors and agents: an opportunity here in Taiwan to meet publishing sector people from around the world and discuss differences in cultures and markets – something that can be hard to do in the chaos of the major book fairs.

    2018’s workshop, the sixth, again welcomed attendees from around the world: from agents who have sold books worldwide to overseas editors who have snapped up Taiwanese books. But what do they discuss?

    Recent years have seen German Tim Jung excel in his role as publishing director at Arche/Atrium, snapping up the rights to Chan Ho-Kei’s The Borrowed, Wang Ting-Kuo’s My Enemy’s Cherry Tree and Hideo Yokoyama’s 64 and guiding these books to impressive sales on the German market. Meanwhile Kelly Farber, a young and talented literary scout and the eyes and ears for Jung and other publishers across eighteen countries, is helping bring Chinese-language literature to a global audience.

    Reading in Germany

    Tim Jung manages two publishing houses. Arche was originally founded to provided reading materials for German prisoners of war during World War Two; Atrium has been publishing novels since 1935.

    There were 72,499 new books published in Germany in 2017, 31% of those novels and 9,890 translated. The majority of the translated works were originally published in English, French or Japanese (including manga). Rights to an impressive 7,856 German books were sold overseas, with the three most common target languages for translation being Chinese, English and Spanish.

    But the news is not all good. Here’s one worrying statistic: the number of people buying books in Germany has plummeted by 6 million over the past four years, to 30 million. It’s a trend which has Germany’s publishing sector on edge.

    It’s not just Germany: publishers around the world are finding themselves squeezed between Facebook and Instagram. But Jung believes books can hold their own against new competitors and remain the "touchstone" against which television shows and video games are judged. Even though many regard other forms of media, including movie or game adaptations, as competitors, Jung finds this approach inadequate. Those adaptations still have value, even if the book market does suffer, and may be key to converting viewers and gamers into readers.

    Why Publish Crime Novels?

    Novels account for a large percentage of book sales and the crime story is an important category of novel: every book store will have a crime section. A German movie director once said that there is no better way to understand the world than through a crime story, and while each publishing house has its own criteria for choosing books, Atrium’s publication of 13.67 proves this point.

    The English edition of the book was titled The Borrowed, hinting at Hong Kong’s particular status. Fears the relationship between China, the UK and Hong Kong may not have been so familiar to German readers, however, meant the German edition was titled The Eye of Hong Kong – a clever combination of the setting and the “Eye of Heaven” nickname of detective protagonist Kwan Chun-dok. The novel tells of six key cases over the course of Kwan’s career, covering key events in the city’s history as it does so and making for a read which provides German readers with both entertainment and a better understanding of the territory.

    Jung quoted Mark Billingham, another of his best-selling authors: “Above all, give your readers characters they care about, that have the power to move them, and then you will have suspense from page one.”

  • Jan 08, 2019
    What Is Books from Taiwan Doing? An Interview with Chinese Books for Young Readers
    By Helen Wang

    First published on March 21, 2018 by Chinese Books for Young Readers
    https://chinesebooksforyoungreaders.wordpress.com/2018/03/01/books-from-taiwan/

    Q: Could you tell us about Books from Taiwan? How does it work? What are your aims and goals?

    Books from Taiwan (BFT) is a project sponsored and hosted by Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture, and it aims to introduce Taiwanese books to overseas publishers and promote overseas rights. BFT produces a printed catalogue and a website. The printed catalogue, published twice a year, selects 20-30 books with international  potential, including fiction, non-fiction, picture books and graphic novels. It is edited by native speakers of English, who translate sample chapters and information about the books and authors. It is mainly for display and distribution at the Taiwan Pavilions at book fairs, or sent directly to rights people overseas. A full PDF of the catalogue can also be found on the website, together with regular columns about rights  and publishers in Taiwan, a database of translators, information about Taiwan’s main literary awards, and application forms for funding for translation. It’s a one-stop shop promoting publishing rights from Taiwan!

    BFT in Seoul

    Books from Taiwan, at the Bangkok and Bologna book fairs, 2017

    BFT in FBF 2017

    Books from Taiwan at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2017

    Q: We’re particularly interested in the children’s/YA section. Does this work in the same way as other BFT books? Or is it very separate? How do you select the books?

    In the first half of every year, we produce a catalogue devoted to children’s books and picture books. We select about ten books, mostly picture books, but also a small number of middle grade and YA novels. We have a small selection team, who meet 4-5 times a year to evaluate, discuss, and select books with sales potential. The members of this team read all the books on their lists before each meeting and introduce their personal favourites in turn, then they discuss which books should be selected, discussing for example, the universality of the content, the style of writing, the visual appeal and so on.

    BFT brochure

    Books from Taiwan brochure

    Q: Could you tell us about the world of children’s/YA books in Taiwan? (Please assume we and our readers know nothing! And perhaps recommend some journals, websites, bookstores etc where we can find out more about children’s/YA books in Taiwan?)

    The children’s book market in Taiwan has become more active, particularly since the shift to having fewer children. Parents are paying more and more attention to their children’s education, and for three consecutive years there has been double digit growth in children’s book sales. Most of the picture books in Taiwan are translations of books from overseas, however, in recent years more and more publishers are starting to develop Taiwanese authors, and promoting their own excellent books. Take a look at the children’s book pages on our website!

    You might also like this blog (The Fur Seal Landlord’s Picture Book Shelves) which introduces children’s books from Taiwan.

    Q: A practical question – in Taiwan books are published in full-form traditional characters. If our readers would like to read books from Taiwan but are more comfortable reading simplified characters, can they also find editions with simplified characters?

    Publishing houses in Taiwan do not publish editions with simplified characters. But, there’s thriving exchange between the copyright markets on both sides of the straits, and if readers are interested in children’s books from Taiwan, they should be able to find them with simplified characters on the mainland. And you can buy children’s books from the mainland with simplified characters from online bookstores in Taiwan.

    Q: Who are the current favourite children’s/YA authors in Taiwan – could you say why?

    Japanese writers, such as Toshio Iwai 岩井俊雄, Kiko Kudo 工藤紀子and Yuka Shimada 島田由佳, have been very popular in recent years. Their illustrations are quite childlike, and whether their stories are close to a child’s real life, or highly imaginative, they appeal to children and to parents. Eric Carle’s classics continue to do well.  Hervé Tullet’s Little Yellow Dot book  (赫威.托雷/圖文:《小黃點》) led to a wave of interactive books. In recent years, picture books teaching children how to protect themselves and understand emotions have been popular. The works of Taiwanese writers Lai Ma 賴馬 and Liu Hsu-Kung 劉旭恭, and A River by cutting-edge Australian illustrator Marc Martin (馬可馬汀: 《河流》) are also popular.