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Publishers Level Up at the Shanghai Book Fair

Aug 18, 2016 | 17:53 Thu
The Shanghai Book Fair, on now until August 23 at the Shanghai Exhibition Center, has come a long way since previous years -- it's bigger, badder, very much less terrible, and book-ier than ever. A few aspects could use improvement, of course -- the F&B still leaves much to be desired -- but overall it's clear Chinese publishers are stepping up their game.

Here's a look inside the Shanghai Book Fair 2016.

So, It Looks Like a "Creative Market"

More so than ever, the Shanghai Book Market is reflective of the industry as a whole. Which is to say, like any Western book merchant chain, actual books make up a portion of what's on offer, along with stationary, notebooks, tote bags, cards, lamps, collectables, toys, pens, book-type accessories, and even robots. It's not really that surprising, though. Books at the Fair are priced at 20% - 30% cheaper than they usually would be in the store. Vendors are making it up on colorful brick-a-bac you'll impulsively buy at the register along with that Harry Potter book.

Major Upgrades on Booth Decoration

This year, we've got more attention being paid to aesthetically pleasing displays indicative of your contemplative lifestyle as someone who reads and purchases books. Publishers Yan Ji You (言几又), Zhong Shu Ge (钟书阁) and Joint Publishing's "山脚下的书店", are leading the change with their pop-up shops. They even serve tea on-site.

Big Push on Bestselling "Big Books"

The publishing industry loves success stories. Even though it's been a few years since their releases, two "big books" that are getting a lot of attention are Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams's game-changer mystery novel S. and, of course, Minecraft: Essential Handbook. You can grab the whole original collection for 300rmb, and there's also discounts on the Minecraft Blockopedia and action figures.

Penguin Random House is selling their Ladybird spoof books and The Happy Reader as collections, as well.

Book Merchants Getting Hip to This New Vinyl Thing

For all your vinyl needs -- provided you have very limited vinyl needs -- the China National Publications Import and Export Corp. is dedicated to vinyl and CDs of mostly classical music. Priced around 200rmb - 300rmb. There's also some cheaper vinyls outside the main room.

Pro tip: So. The main deal is this. Book people flock to the Shanghai Book Fair for the discounted prices -- usually around 20% off normal prices in the shop. You've got to dig for it, but English-language readers can get some good deals as well, including cheap deals on obscure arts and trade magazines.

Indie magazines like Puss Puss and Frankie are sold for 30rmb

For English-language books, head to the entrance of the west hall. You'll find a fair amount of selection in imported books, and big discounts in old art/ design books -- those big ones you decorate your coffee table with when guests come over. Edification!

The Shanghai Book Fair is open until August 23, daily from 9am to 9pm at Shanghai Exhibition Center. The entrance fee is 10rmb before 6pm and 5rmb afterward.


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