Tips for Participating in the Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF)

The Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF) is the largest copyright trade fair in China. For Malaysian publishers, here are some tips to maximise your opportunities at the fair:


  • The Malaysia pavilion is usually located in the same hall as China publishers. Their editors may walk around in the fair seeking new content, but many of them aren’t able to read or speak English.
  • Most patrons who speak fluent English are typically focused on selling their copyrights rather than purchasing.
  • There is usually at least one volunteer translator stationed at the Malaysia Pavilion, but they may only capable of translating between English and Mandarin if they are not Malaysians. But fret not, our local Chinese publishers (such as Pelangi and Odonata) are happy to lend a hand whenever needed.
  • Try and get the login credentials to the BIBF website from the trip organiser (which is MBKM for year 2024), where you could browse the directory of all BIBF participants and make appointments with them beforehand.

On Selling Rights:

  • There are two types of publishers in China:
    1. Official Publishing Houses:
      China has about 600 registered publishing houses, all of which are government-owned. These official publishing houses are the only entities authorised to obtain ISBNs and publish legally. Their names typically end with “出版社” or “出版集团” (meaning “publishing house” or “publishing group”). You could prioritise partnership opportunities with this type of publishers as they tend to be more reliable in terms of royalty payments.
    2. Book Companies:
      Book companies are independent content creators who collaborate with (and rely on) official publishing houses to get their books published. While some book companies are really capable of producing million-dollar best-sellers, it is still advisable to negotiate for a higher initial payment if they are interested in your content.
  • To increase your chances, it is beneficial to prepare a Chinese version (simplified, not traditional) of your synopsis alongside an English one.
  • If you are not able to get a professional translator, consider using tools like ChatGPT, Gemini, or Google Translate. You could double-check the translations to ensure their accuracy using ChatGPT or Gemini with a prompt like this:
    • Please hep me verify if these translations are accurate.
      Original text:
      [original text]
      [translated text]
      [additional context]
  • Our company was lucky to have sold some content to a Russian publishing house in the last BIBF. This means that there are lots of other opportunities too besides selling to the publishers in China.
  • Please get your WeChat ready. People in China rely on WeChat so much that some of them don’t even bother to bring their business cards. Remember to add a remark to every contact you add with their real name and their organisation, as their username are often different to their real names. Take a selfie too if possible.
  • Do prepare a compressed PDF of your book catalogue and some sample pages in your phone. You may want to send them via WeChat later on.
  • If you find it difficult to deal with the Chinese publishers, you may consider engaging a copyright agency as your representative. Ask if the agency has a booth in any copyright trading fair if you really want to make sure that they are not a scam.

On Buying Rights:

  • Please bear in mind that not all books are eligible for a publishing financial grant.
  • Book genres that are more likely to have a grant support include classic literatures and books related to Chinese culture.
  • There are certain terms and conditions the grant recipients need to fulfil, such as ensuring that the published books truly circulate in the market.
  • If you happen to purchase a copyright, try and ask whether they could print for you directly from China, which may be cheaper than printing in Malaysia (but not always the case).

Hope it helps and wish you all the best!

Khor Shuqi
Odonata Publishing

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