photo: Łukasz Jarocki / The Book Institute

Polish publishers at the Taipei International Book Exhibition

“The Asian market is difficult. The book fair provides an opportunity to expand contacts and establish a presence in other markets”, said representatives of publishing houses from Poland and a literary agent who are taking part in the Taipei International Book Exhibition in an interview with Polish Press Agency (PAP).

The Taipei International Book Exhibition TIBE, one of the most important events of its kind in the Far East, has been taking place in the Taiwanese capital Taipei since Tuesday. This is the first time Poland is appearing as Guest of Honour. The event includes meetings with Polish artists, concerts, and the tasting of Polish food. The fair will last until 5 February.

"Being present at the fair provides an opportunity for us to expand our reach and contacts in just a few days when it comes to the Far East and also those markets that we don't normally access through our usual channels. We met a number of major publishers here. From our point of view, this is very important, there was a lot of interest in our literary prose, including our top titles of recent months," Andrzej Stańczyk of Wydawnictwo Literackie in Krakow told PAP.

As he said, the opportunity to attend this event is "a typical trade fair experience, this cannot be replicated in emails, in conversations, in browsing catalogues".

He assessed that the Asian market is "difficult because, when it comes to literary prose, there are some civilisational differences". "There are recurring themes present in our literature, both contemporary and literature from the past. Although the writers aim to universalise their message, these are often stories based on multi-generational experiences, traumas related to Polish history, to where we live. It is difficult to attract interest in this type of product, which is firmly rooted in Polish, European history, identity traditions, and therefore I think that illustrated books, designed for children, find it easier to reach their audience here," he pointed out.

Marta Górska from Foksal Publishing Group admitted that this was her first participation in an Asian fair and she did not quite know what to expect.

"This is quite a specific fair, because the ones we go to normally, as publishers, for example in Frankfurt, London, Bologna, are fairs where only publishers are present. You go to these events to meet people, see what other publishers have to offer, there are no random people there. Everything is very much industry-focused. In Taipei, the fair looks a little different, as we have a sales section for readers and also a section for publishers. For me, it's interesting, although also sometimes difficult, to see what books readers are reaching for," Gorska told PAP.

In her opinion, "every market is difficult to access". "Certainly it is a bit easier with European markets for cultural reasons, but in fact, you have to prepare for each market," she pointed out.

Katarzyna Sienkiewicz-Kosik, representing the publishing house Powergraph, said that she is keen to go to the fair because she believes it is "a great opportunity to establish ourselves in other markets, outside Poland".

"We know we have good books, and we want to show them to other readers too. The fair is an opportunity to forge some contacts. It is extremely difficult to go to a trade fair and sell a book straight away; it is often a multi-year process of establishing contacts with successive publishers, agents, editors, and sometimes, with a bit of luck, this results in the book being published abroad," said Sienkiewicz-Kosik.

Karolina Jaszecka, a translation rights agent from KaBooks agency, specialising in Polish illustrated literature for children, told PAP that "there is a lot of interest in illustrated books, children's books in Taipei because it is a very good product". "I hope the fair will open my way into the Asian market, which is a difficult market," she added.

"It's sometimes easier to access the Asian market through sub-agents, which means I would have to work with someone local who knows the local publishers. This is also due to the fact that publishers do not speak other languages, there is a language barrier, and it is difficult to negotiate. These local agents help with that," she explained.

Together with the Book Institute, representatives of the literary agencies Andrew Nurnberg Associates Warsaw and KaBooks as well as the publishing houses Powergraph, Dwie Siostry, Nasza Księgarnia, Adamada, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy (State Publishing Institute PIW), Grupa Wydawnicza Foksal, and Manuscriptum travelled to the International Book Exhibition in Taipei.

The main organiser of the Polish presentation are the Book Institute and the Polish Office in Taipei. They are partnered by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, the National Library, the Pilecki Institute, and the International Cultural Centre. The project was co-financed by funds from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage as part of the task 'Poland as Guest of Honour at the TIBE 2023 International Book Exhibition in Taipei'.

source: From Taipei Katarzyna Krzykowska, Polish Press Agency (PAP)