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  • An Unexpected Adventure
    By Sandy Lin (Reve Books)
    Sep 12, 2019

    Publishing and rights management are relatively closely related professions.

    I have been working in the publishing industry for over 10 years. I started as an editor, but now I oversee the acquisition and sale of foreign rights. This significant change in my career had its own unexpected turning point.

     

    From Editor to Rights Agent

    In 2017, I went to Beijing on a business trip with our Editor-in-Chief. While catching up on work in the hotel, we received a proposal from our editorial team: they wanted to acquire a title from Thailand, “SOTUS,” a popular novel that had been adapted into TV series.

    Yet in those days, our publishing house primarily focused on Chinese-language novels. We had never even considered other languages until our team brought up this new proposal.

    Based on their research, the acquisitions team believed that the widespread popularity of drama made it very likely that even a non-Chinese title would be worth a try for us. After hours of discussion with the Editor-in-Chief, we agreed that the project could work. Yet we had never acquired anything from Thailand before; we weren’t even sure how exactly to go about it.

    One might ask: did you think about engaging an agency to acquire the rights? The truth is that agents weren’t a part of our world at that point; we were accustomed to contacting copyright holders directly without help from agencies. When we first began acquiring from China, I communicated with rights holders via email or in person. So we sent a query directly to the Thai rights holder, and luckily for us, they responded positively. This moment, it turned out, was a watershed for my career.  

    In 2017, on the invitation of the Thai publisher, I attended my very first Bangkok Book Fair. There I met other publishers to whom we had been licensing our own titles, illustrations, and designs for years. It was a great opportunity for me to meet more editors and share my experiences with them, as well as to understand more about Thailand’s book market.

    After returning to Taiwan, I received letters from multiple Thai publishers asking me to help them to acquire rights to more Chinese light novels. Some were having difficulty contacting rights holders, while others were sometimes made to wait for six months or longer every time they requested a title. As I happen to have years of experience dealing with Chinese and Taiwanese light novel authors and utilizing online literature platforms, I could help them save a lot of time.

    As time went by, we began working with more Thai publishers looking for light novel titles. My Editor-in-Chief asked me if I would like to start working full-time in our rights department. As luck would have it, I found an opportunity to attend the Taipei Rights Workshop hosted by the Ministry of Culture, where I learned more about the responsibilities of a rights editor and was exposed to new ways to pitch work to clients – both crucial confidence-builders as I started a new career.   

     

    Hot in Thailand: Light Novels and MM Romance

    Our company has an imprint, Pinsin, that publishes exclusively light novels featuring MM romance. Many people may wonder what qualifies as a light novel, and what we mean by “MM romance.” The light novel initially developed in Japan as a category of fiction suitable for casual reading and aimed at teenage and young adult readers. The boundaries of that definition expanded when the light novel came to Taiwan, and it now frequently includes new or hard-to-classify genres of novel fiction.

    MM (Male-Male) Romance, more recently known as Boys Love (“BL” in Asia), refers to a genre of fantasy romance (not LGBT fiction) between men for female readers (to be known as Fujoshi). Boys Love romance also originates in Japan. Taiwanese readers first encountered it in novels translated from the Japanese, but domestic authorship of BL novels has been going on since 1998. Although most readers are female, it is my understanding that the population of male readers is also growing.

    In recent years, MM romance as a subgenre of light novels has exploded in Thailand. Its popularity has grown in other southeast Asian nations as well, though many of these countries – China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and others – restrict the publication of LGBT-related content. Close observation of the Thai market suggests that Chinese light novels (especially those set in ancient China) occupy a mainstream position. Some of the publishers consistently acquire titles that have already been published or become popular in Taiwan, and we have found that the tastes of readers in both countries share common ground: both markets love fiction involving fantasy, wuxia knight-errantry, mystical martial arts, and palace rivalry, while sci-fi or stories of modern China enjoy a much more limited readership.

    We start to recommend Taiwanese novels to Thai publishers in 2019, they are more than welcome to give a try. As licensing fees for Chinese titles increase, Taiwanese authors who produce work of identical quality have an opportunity to compete with their Chinese colleagues. Taiwanese titles also possess the advantage of lower average word counts; while a Chinese online novel might stretch to five or even ten volumes, Taiwanese authors frequently conclude their stories in one or two volumes. Taiwanese novels therefore cost less, from a publisher’s point of view. While Chinese titles frequently gain cross-media support from large companies that repackage them for television, web series, and games, thereby attracting new readers, these adaptations also inevitably result in substantial alteration to the romantic content.  

    Personal observation suggests to me that MM romances owe their growing popularity in Thailand to their adaptation of the traditional romance storyline. While most romance novels follow the formulaic story arc of meeting, falling in love, conflict, and happy ending, MM romances frequently incorporate adventure-based or fantastical plot elements that enrich the reading experience. Perhaps the most popular example at the moment is the Demon Grandmaster (Modao zushi) series; if you search for hashtags like #MDZS or #MoDaoZuShi on Twitter, you will be astounded by the number of fans it has. Rights to this series have sold in China, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, and Russia.

     

    Future Prospects?

    I was very lucky to attend the Taipei Rights Workshop. It greatly increased my understanding of international rights sales and taught me important new strategies for pitching work. I even made a few friends there whose positive influences make me a better agent and a better person. Those experiences remind me of how important it is to keep tabs on trends in both domestic and foreign markets.

    Although light novels never find their way to the top of agents’ lists for promotion, their potential market is huge. While some social barriers still exist between West and East, success stories are not unknown: the Japanese comic City Hunter, illustrated by Tsukasa Hojo, has done well enough to be adapted into a movie in France. Perhaps its example will pave the way for more Asian light novels to make inroads into the European market. All it takes are publishers who are ready to offer the right chance – and if you never try, you’ll never know!

  • Bringing Books from Taiwan Around the World
    By Michelle Tu ∥ Translated by Sarah-Jayne Carver
    Aug 27, 2019

    For 16 years, the Taipei Book Fair Foundation has been actively learning and co-operating with the international publishing community. In 2012, the Taipei Book Fair Foundation held Asia's first Conference of International Book Fairs, inviting the presidents of the Frankfurt, Leipzig, Seoul, New York, Bologna, Guadalajara, Warsaw, London, Gothenburg and Prague book fairs to come to Taiwan. They brought reports detailing the book market developments in their respective regions and exchanged the latest publishing news with their Taiwanese counterparts.

     

    Taiwanese Publishing Bases Overseas

    In addition to inviting international publishers to Taiwan, the Taipei Book Fair Foundation is also committed to promoting Taiwanese writers and works in international markets. Over the last few years, the foundation has participated in the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the Thessaloniki Book Fair, the Prague Book Fair, the Warsaw Book Fair, the New York Rights Fair, the Seoul Book Fair, the Moscow Book Fair, the Frankfurt Book Fair, the Guadalajara Book Fair...over time, Taiwan’s footprints have gradually made their way across the world.

    Every year, the Taipei Book Fair Foundation organises a “Taiwan Pavilion” in the exhibition halls of overseas book fairs, giving Taiwanese publishers, large and small, the opportunity to gain international exposure for their works, so they can establish links with publishers around the world and maintain long-term partnerships. There are various activities hosted during the exhibition, such as writers' events and “Rights Matchmaking” sessions for book publishers, which are held at the booths of the Taiwan Pavilion. They also bring many Taiwanese authors abroad every year to meet overseas readers.

    Italian readers who grew up with Jimmy Liao’s picture books were moved to tears when they saw him in person.  Similarly, Mexican fans were driven to tears when the Spanish edition of Have You Seen Me? by Zhou Jian-Xin was launched at the Guadalajara Book Fair. The History of Gay Literature by Chi Ta-wei received special recognition from the vice-chairman of the Frankfurt Book Fair, Holger Volland; and the life-sized cardboard cut-out of Nezha the Third Prince by comic artist Zuo Hsuan was a huge hit, earning her a lot of German fans.

     

    Chi Ta-wei and Holger Volland at Frankfurt Book Fair

     

    Brilliant Content and Exquisite Design Put Taiwan on the International Stage

    One particularly notable example is the 2017 Bologna Children's Book Fair, where the Taipei Book Fair Foundation invited internationally-renowned illustrator and curator Page Tsou to design the Taiwan Pavilion, who turned the booth into an exhibition with the theme “Museum of the Fantastic”. The international children’s book industry was stunned by the exhibit, demonstrating just how much the aesthetic qualities of the Taiwan Pavilion have evolved over the years. After the fair, the entire exhibit continued to be displayed at the Bologna Municipal Library, and the enthusiastic media response made its way from Europe back to Asia, prompting the Gwangju Cultural Centre in Korea to inquire about displaying the exhibition.

     

    2017 Bologna Children's Book Fair, Taiwan Pavilion

     

    Last year (2018), the Taiwan Pavilion at the Guadalajara Book Fair won “Best Booth Design of the Year” for how it used illustrations and design to create a reading ambience whilst still functioning as a professional space. The same year, Lee Chin-Lun, the illustrator recommended by the Taiwan Pavilion, also successfully sold the Spanish rights of her book How Pets Used to Be. It was exactly what a perfect book fair should look like.  

     

    2018 Guadalajara Book Fair, Taiwan Pavilion

     

    Book fairs of the future will no longer be just platforms serving readers and exhibitors, they need to become creative exhibitions that cross borders, provide experiences, and give visitors the chance to meet new people. The TiBE is striving forward to create that sense of awe and wonder, as reflected by the combination of these experiences from three friends of the Taipei Book Fair Foundation:

    “From a professional point of view, I think that Taipei Book Fair actually is a very CREATIVE book fair.” – Barbel Becker, Frankfurt Book Fair (Germany)

    “This Fair has grown over the 17 years that I've be been here, it's very IMPRESSIVE.” – Gloria Bailey, the Publishers Association (UK)

    “It's a vibrant fair, compared to many others in Asia; it is COOL!” – Nicolas Roche, Bureau International de l'edition Franciase (France)

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

    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!

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

    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.

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

    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 

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

    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!’

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

    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.

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

    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.

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

    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.”