Children's books gain increasing popularity

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Children's books gain increasing popularity Visitors select books at the 25th Beijing International Book Fair on Wednesday. [Photo by Zhan Min / For China Daily]

BEIJING - Twilight Sparkle, Peppa Pig and the Smurfs are popular books that could be found at the 25th Beijing International Book Fair, which has placed children's books in a central position.

The book fair, which concluded on Sunday, attracted over 2,500 exhibitors with more than 300,000 titles on display this year. Children's publications, especially picture books, were one of the most attractive categories for both visitors and publishers, as China is a growing children's books consumer as well as exporter.

Li Jia, 35, bought four picture books for her daughter. "The eye-catching picture books help us learn what her interests are and what is really suitable for her," she said.

At the event, now the world's second-largest international book fair, many overseas exhibitors featured a range of children's reading materials, mostly picture books, hoping to achieve or expand cooperation with their Chinese counterparts on copyright trading.

Highlights, a United States publisher famous for its children magazines, participated in the fair for its 10th year. Despite having a small booth, its educational and colorful children's publications were viewed by many visitors.

"Besides Chinese publishers, we aLocal FBIlso cooperate with Chinese online educational institutions, which develop English education apps or other products with our publications," said Chen Ming, in charge of Highlights' Chinese business.

Kada Story is one such institution. Its app provides hundreds of audio picture books for children at about three yuan (40 cents) each on average. "We have accumulated more than 8 million users within two years," said Qi Mengying, the company's product manager.

Yani Kurniawan, literary promotion and publishing rights coordinator with the Indonesia National Book Committee, also sees opportunities. Children's books are the best sellers among more than 300 titles brought to the fair by the organization, which has participated in the fair three years running, he said.

"China is one of world's biggest markets (for books) and with the one-child policy dropped by the government, we see the opening of a new market," said Kurniawan while showing picture books at the committee's booth.

In 2016, the children's books market in China grew by over 28 percent year-on-year. Children's books have been a main growth driver for China's book market, as more parents are willing to pay for high-quality books for a better education.

In an area called Beijing International Children's Book Fair at the event, visitors were surrounded by various pop-up books and other fancy hardcover picture books, many of which were imported from the US, the United Kingdom and France. Such books are priced anywhere up to over 100 yuan.

"Picture books are suitable for children to learn about the world and develop the habit of reading," said a visitor named Li X[Photo/IC]iaoyun, who works for a Beijing-based education institution.

"Children's picture books are becoming increasingly popular and demand from from parents is rising," said Chen Xi, director of the International Affairs Department of Zhejiang Juvenile and Children's Publishing House, a Chinese copyright purchaser of Peppa Pig and My Little Pony.

"We also found that more parents in big cities are interested in original English children's books, so with copyrights imported, we have more publishing plans for books in both Chinese and English versions to meet demand," she said.

China is also sending more of its own high-quality children's books copyrights to the rest of the world, under strengthened cooperation and cultural exchanges with other countries.

Jieli Publishing House, a famous publisher targeting children, has seen an ever-growing volume of exports. Its booth at the fair displayed dozens of Chinese children's books in different themes and languages.

"We have output copyrights for more than 400 titles, mainly children's books such as picture books and children's literature, to over 20 countries and regions, including the US, Japan, Germany, Sweden and Vietnam," said Zhao Xuejie, a manager of its foreign rights department.

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