A child reads outside the Shanghai Book Fair in 2006.
Shanghai Book Fair will return next month with "love reading, love life" as its theme from August 16 to 22. Shanghai Exhibition Center will host the main event, with smaller local bookstores also hosting smaller break-away sessions. According to Xu Jiong, head of Shanghai Municipal Press and Publication Bureau, over 500 publishing houses will bring 150,000 books to the fair for readers to browse and purchase.
Xu added that, with the 19th Session of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China around the corner, an array of books demonstrating China's achievements in reform, innovation and development in all fields will be presented via exhibiting and reading activities.
At the entrance of the main venue, about 100 varieties of thematic publications promoting the speeches of President Xi Jinping and new ideas and strategies will also be exhibited as a prelude to the fair.
Publications about the establishment and development of People's Liberation Army will be presented to honor China's 90th Army Day. This year also marks the 80th anniversary of the nationwide war against Japanese aggression. The fair will also showcase related studies and books.
As an important component of the fair, Shanghai International Literary Week will focus on sci-fi literature this year, according to Xu. Novelists, scholars and critics from both China and abroad, such as American sci-fi novelist Mike Resnick and Japanese novelist Keiichiro Hirano, will host workshops, speeches, discussions and meetings with readers.
According to Xu, as more people around the world start to follow Chinese science fiction, especially books focusing on artificial intelligence, sci-fi has become a vital genre of the fair.
"In fact, many technologies from sci-fi have now been achieved in reality, while some will be possibly realized in the future, which is very interesting," he said. "Some science fiction is also addressing the relationships between technologies and human society."
Supporting Chinese children's books
Xu said that Shanghai has also been promoting parent-child reading and reading among teenagers by integrating literary and educational resources. "These are the foundation to enhance civil reading, so we have to work on it very well," Xu said.
This year, readers will see scaled-up exhibitions in children's literature. Xu said that over 1,000 publications, both from China and abroad, will be brought to the fair, along with more than 100 related activities held during the event.
"Many local parents are now paying closer attention to reading among children, so children's literature always attracts lots of visitors every year," said Xu. "The fair will take place during summer vacation, so many children come to the fair for consecutive days."
"Parents get involved in reading promotion activities spontaneously, which we think is very valuable," Xu said. "Therefore, the bureau has started to build up a new media union to encourage medias to communicate and learn from each other, so as to promote parent-child reading."
Picture books are another highlight of this fair. Kaitianpidi, Zhonghua Chuangshi Shenhua, a series telling ancient Chinese myths, will be showcased at the fair. It is an important effort to let both children and adults know about ancient Chinese culture as well as Chinese-style drawing.
Some publishing houses prefer to introduce foreign picture books over supporting local ones, which Xu hopes will change. "Most of the picture books currently in our market are imported. We need to support Chinese writers and artists and original Chinese picture books created by them," Xu said.