Writersblog

Salomon Kroonenberg

Salomon Kroonenberg, Dutch writer

The Dutch programme at the International Book Fair in Beijing was cunn... >>> read more

Kai Kang

Kai Kang, Journalist China Reading Weekly

Dear Dutch publishers. The book fair is over. Perhaps you’ll now... >>> read more

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert, Dutch illustrators

The days are full and long. We are incessantly bombarded with impressi... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

Arriving on the stand on the first day, I’d asked a Chinese visi... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

Big excitement today since we were finally meeting with Songyu from Fl... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

The traffic in Beijing is horrendous, I’m sure the other blogger... >>> read more

Thomas Möhlmann

Thomas Möhlmann, Staff member Dutch Foundation for Literature

What an evening the poets and the approximately 200 onlookers present ... >>> read more

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert, Dutch illustrators

It’s now the third day, and the first one with plenty of sun. Un... >>> read more

Kai Kang

Kai Kang, Journalist China Reading Weekly

What a great opportunity to learn about the Dutch literature for Chine... >>> read more

Salomon Kroonenberg

Salomon Kroonenberg, Dutch writer

A duck flies to and fro over the vast expanses of world ocean, despera... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

‘In the era of browsing, we provide reading.’ - Slogan see... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

The jewel in the crown of our collection of Arbeiderspers titles publi... >>> read more

Michele Hutchison

Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

The Chinese publishers I have met during the course of my career, the ... >>> read more

Salomon Kroonenberg

Salomon Kroonenberg, Dutch writer

I have so far never been to a book fair. Nor do I know what to imagine... >>> read more

Kai Kang

Kai Kang, Journalist China Reading Weekly

Since 2006, I began writing about the Netherlands’ performance a... >>> read more

Henk Pröpper

Henk Pröpper, Director Dutch Foundation for Literature

Now that the fair is just round the corner, this is perhaps the moment... >>> read more

Henk Pröpper

Henk Pröpper, Director Dutch Foundation for Literature

In two weeks’ time, the official opening of one of the largest b... >>> read more

Ramsey Nasr

Ramsey Nasr, Dutch poet

Ramsey Nasr (b. 1974, Rotterdam) is a poet and author, actor and direc... >>> read more


Michele Hutchison, Editor De Arbeiderspers

Thinkingdom

The traffic in Beijing is horrendous, I’m sure the other bloggers have mentioned it already. It takes an hour to get to the fair and most of that is limping along a clogged up motorway through the low-lying smog. We thought we were being clever by missing the 8am bus and the rush hour, and opting for a taxi later. This resulted in a tense 50 minutes in the traffic, the invocation of Tony the Swan God of Travel and still arriving too late for our first meeting. Luckily the editor we’d missed returned to the stand so my colleague met with her while I took meeting number two. It turned into a comic wrestle for the Maarten ‘t Hart books on the stand, both publishers showing properly keen.

The invocation of Tony the Swan God of Travel.

My colleague’s editor was also keen on the novel our first friend had tried to buy yesterday, the man with the discounts. The interpreters told us he’d turned at the stand first thing to try to appropriate the English edition and when they failed to give it to him, he’d ordered them to put it under lock and key so that no one else could take it. By the time we went to a meet and greet with Chinese publishers in the press centre at lunchtime, so many people had attempted to borrow the book, Elik had to take it with her to keep it safe. The discounts man had a point, English language editions were gold dust here.

A rather awkward experience in the press centre was followed by a trip to the rights centre which was revelatory and more in line with what I’d expected originally. A shabbily sectioned-off area of just a few metres, it contained around ten tables and was clearly not Frankfurt. The agent I met there told me it was the worst book fair he’d ever been to. He had been required to check in two days ahead of the fair to collect his free pass and when he failed to do that he was barred entry. Day two was his first day at the fair. He’d ended having to buy a ticket from an illegal tout at the entrance.

I got some figures on Chinese publishing: a successful domestic title might sell 100,000 copies, bestselling foreign literary fiction might make it to 30,000 copies and a regular print run could be 8,000 copies. At the very top end: Da Vinci Code sold 1.8 million copies, The Kite Runner 700,000, Water for Elephants 200,000. But none of these was as big as a Japanese memoir that had sold 3.3 million copies. It was published by Thinkingdom, a publishing house I immediately tried and failed to locate at the fair. Mysterious stealth players? Rumour had it they’d paid agent Carmen Balcells a million dollars for the rights to One Hundred Years of Solitude, and had published the first non-pirated edition last year. They’d also paid a million for Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. But where were they? Nowhere to be seen on the Letterenfond’s list of contacts, that’s for sure. I will continue to search.

Oh and not having a business card today was embarrassing.