If you missed the announcement for the Seoul International Book Fair 2023, you’re not alone. We did, too. Following the more recent scheduling, when the event was held in October - in 2020 and then in September - in 2021, we assumed the event had returned to its original time slot, for later in the year. We thought we had months to spare before jet-setting off to Korea. But alas… we were wrong.
This year, it passed us by – finished. ☹ It was held in 14th ~ 18th of June, in the famous COEX building in southern Seoul. It was well visited by those who were aware of the date changes, but for those of us living busy lives elsewhere, we’ve missed it. We’re not sure why the dates were changed, or if holding the event in June, is now a permanent fixture. Sadly, we will have to keep our radars tuned for future years and we’ll need to be careful about booking our plane flights – because we just might have to get them refunded.
So, this is what we missed.
The Seoul International Book Fair has been in existence since 1947, when it was held in October. However, because of the Korean War, the 2nd book fair did not take place until seven years later. Now looking forward 69 years, the event attracts a myriad of people from all over the world – approximately 250,000 visitors a year, from such countries as Japan, China, France, UAE, Turkey, India, Italy, UK, USA, and Australia.
Like many book fairs, it services the host country - promoting their books, goods, and educational services of around 600 Korean publishers, as well as showcasing the Korean publishing industry to both the national and international communities.
Organised by the Korean Publishers Association, the yearly event promotes the importance of reading and education among Koreans, and serves to promote the export, trade and exposure of Korean literature, internationally.
The Seoul International Book Fair has grown to become one of the biggest publishing events in the Asian region, following the Beijing International Book Fair, which coincidently this year, ran concurrently to SIBF June 15~18. So, if you were thinking, you might do both in the same year – forget it. That’s not a possibility, anymore.
If you’re a publisher, then professional conferences, seminars regarding the Korean market and book rights would have been your main area of interest. For those of you who might have wanted to check out the authors, then there were signing sessions, cultural events and even kids' presentations. Don’t forget, the illustrators; they were around every corner.
This year, the Theme Exhibition was ‘Nonhuman’ – everything centered around the possibility of exploring another world of new lifeforms, something “beyond humanity”. The theme sounds a bit apocalyptic, as it tells of the world being headed for imminent “catastrophe…nowhere else to turn”. I pray we all hold greater hope for humanity.
Alongside the SIBF and the Best Book Design Exhibition, a featured program - ‘Climate Gourmet’, presented a focus on global, healthy eating. It promoted the maintenance of our planet; the benefits of natural products, soil repair, microorganisms and biodiversity.
Either way, this book fair is one to put on your calendar – that is, if we don’t miss it.
Now Europe is a pretty big place and as of 2018, some 50 countries are considered part of that region. However, it appears that only particular member states of the EU that continue to be the most productive countries on the book publishing map and they include: Russia, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and of Course the United Kingdom. However, for the purpose of this article we will delete the UK and treat them as a separate entity, given their decision to leave the European Union.
According to Worldometers and UNESCO (United Nations Educational Science and Cultural Organization), each year the world produces 2,412,371 and counting. This is a live figure, so even in the matter of minutes as I am write this article, it has increased to 2,412,379. I'll update it again, at the end of this article if you are curious.
The numbers of titles for the above relevant countries produced books at rate other countries can only dream of. Russia produced 123,336 in 2008; France produced a total of 67,278; while Spain managed 86,300 in 2008; Germany a staggering 93, 124 for 2009 and Italy closed 2005 with 59,743 books. These figures are just some of the major book producers in the world. Remember, these EU statistics are not 2018 figures, but are the most up to day figures presently available. Either way, the numbers of books being produced, do not appear to be waning.
It goes without saying that the biggest producers and consumers of books still goes to China - 328,387 books in total for the 2010 period. A similar figure was documented for the United States - new titles and editions totalled 328,259, in the same year.
(The live book total is now - 2,412,497)
Whether books are produced in hard copy or soft, physical or digital - the production of books is increasing at a phenomenal rate. Just adding the above sets of figures for five of the stated European countries - that's 429,781 books alone, which out produces both China and the United States by more than 100,000 books.
Europe looks set to boom and there are forty-five remaining countries in that region, I have not documented. Go figure!
Well, it’s a wrap! The Seoul International Writers’ Festival has finished up for yet, another year.
Held both on and offline - from September 23rd ~ 30th September 2022, the festival saw a total of 35 writers partaking in the South Korean event, which included twelve foreign writers, who joined us from eight separate countries.
The eight-day festival, themed ‘Beyond Narrative’, explored the boundaries of language and genre with readers; opened up discussions between writers and critiques and offered readings to the audience members.
Pulitzer-winning poet – Forrest Gander delivered the opening, keynote speech. His book of poems titled - ‘Be With’ - published in 2019, gained him world-wide recognition as an international poet. Other leading writers, such as Kim Hye-Soon and Santiago Gamoa also participated in the event. Soon is well-respected in South Korea writer and was the first Asian woman to have ever won the Canadian, ‘Griffin Poetry Prize’. As part of the SIW Festival, she also recited some of her works at the Seoul Community Cultural Centre in Seogyo, on Saturday, September 24th.
Also taking part, was the well-known Columbian author, Gamboa - for his book, ‘Night Prayers’. Both Gamboa and Song also joined the virtual presentation at closing session of the event for literary discussion. Sun was responsible for translating his work into Korean for the general public to enjoy.
The festival saw many well-known writers come together. Hugo Award-winning, American author - Naomi Kritzer of ‘Cat Pictures Please’; New York Best-Seller, Indian novelist - Megha Majumdar for the title, ‘A Burning’; Shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize Argentinian author – Samantha Schweblin for her work entitled, ‘Fever Dream; and Wu Mingyi who was the first Taiwanese writer to have been longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize for work titled, ‘The Stolen Bicycle’.
It can be noted, Korean author – Kim Bo-Young who wrote, ‘I am Waiting for You’ was the first English translation of a Korean sci-fi novel, published by HarperCollins. Author of ‘The Plotters’ by Kim Un-Su, saw this book shortlisted for the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere in France; it is presently being made into a Korean Film. Cheon Seon-Ran – author of ‘A Thousand Blues’ also took part in the event. Her novel won Grand Prize, at the Korean Science Literature Award in 2019.
All-in-all, we saw and listened to some very interesting and knowledgeable authors present not only their works, but also an insight into their creative minds that penned these wonderful works.
Publishing in Australia and New Zealand yield distinct differences, but also reveal unique benefits for either region. Sound interesting? We thought so too.
Join Lee Walker from the Australian Publishers Association, Hugo Setzer - the International Publishers Association and Julia Marshall - President of the Publishers Association of New Zealand to see what lies on the horizon for the publishing industry.
You've been waiting with bated breath and now it is here! The 2020 ABIA shortlist is out and wow! What a lineup of incredible talent.
Every year, the Australian Book Industry Awards brings together and celebrates the talents of not only authors and illustrators, but also the hardworking publishers that go out of their way to support such fine work. Without publishers, such talent might go undiscovered and the world of literature as we know it, would be a lesser place.
We look forward to seeing the humble newcomer make it big in children's literature; cheer when we experience the playful colours of unseen illustrators; marvel at the penmanship of seasoned writers and give thanks to the never-ending support, encouragement and belief of editors and their publishing houses.
Sponsored by some of the biggest publishing houses and businesses in the Literary industry; this year because of the CoVid19 situation, the ABIA Awards will go virtual - streaming the event LIVE, on YouTube at 4 pm - May 13th, 2020. Some of the categories you'll see celebrated will be: Audiobook of the Year; Biography Book of the Year, Illustrator of the Year; Bookshop of the Year; Publisher of the Year and so many more.
However, Rising Star of the Year is one award that will bring smiles to the faces of many - for without the young taking interest in literature - we have no awards.
I so look forward to the evening and will close up shop early, to enjoy these wonderful Awards.
...And, so should you. :)
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