Kicking off China at BookExpo in New York with a 500 strong delegation for a 3 day program of debates and encounters
It all started with hosting a ping pong tournament and players in the early 1970s, recalled Steve Orlins, who in fact had been personally involved in the early negotiations to resume diplomatic relations between the US and China some four decades ago. Today, Orlins is president of the National Committee of United States China Relations, with Henry Kissinger still its vice-president, sending a welcome note to the BookExpo America Global Market Forum China, which we kicked off today in New York.
China has sent a delegation 500 strong delegation, including over 100 publishers, for meeting their US peers, and engage in professional conversations on how to further develop exchanges between the book professionals of the two largest book markets worldwide.
Together, the US and China book markets account for some 40 percent of the worldwide trade in books and publications, as Jonathan Nowell of Nielsen BookScan reminded the audience in the first of five “Forums” exploring the state of the industry in the two countries, quoting statistics that we had researched a year ago.
Nowell was joined by an illustrious round of speakers including Wu Shangzhi, the Chinese Vice-Minister for publishing (GAPP), Wu Xiaoping and Li Yan, respectively president and vice-president of two of the largest Chinese publishing groups, Phoenix and China Publishing Group, Tom Allen, president of the American Association of Publishers, Richard Charkin, president of the International Publishers Association and CEO of UK publisher Bloomesbury, Russel Grandinetti, SVP of Amazon Kindle, Clay Stobaugh, EVP of Wiley (which operates in China since 1979!), Jo Lusby, MD North Asia for Penguin Random House, who had set up shop for Penguin exactly 10 years ago, Rick Joyce, CMO at Perseus, as well as my co-moderator George Slowik, president of Publishers Weekly.
These two panel debates were setting the tone for further discussions, on digital publishing, literary translation, educational publishing and reading promotion in the next few days which I had been preparing together for BEA, with tremendous support from teams in Beijing and at BEA in the US.
In fact, together with BEA’s director Steve Rosato, and his predecessor Lance Fensterman, we had started to work on this project a number of years ago.
Today, all these pieces got together into a great event, and, to be honest, with a deep breath of relief. It cannot be an easy feat to set the stage for such a complex conversation, and I am sure, the various debates will follow suit on that beginning in the weeks and months ahead, with discussions on business as well as debates between different cultures and agendas. I am certain that this was a fruitful start.