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All eyes are on China at the London Book Fair.
China is the event's market focus this year, and plays a key role in international sales and rights of contents, says James Kynge, the award-winning author for the book China Shakes the World, at Chairman's Breakfast which was organized on the opening day.
UK's publishers are optimistic about the business opportunities at the fair.
Penguin China's head Jo Lusby says, "Our business will benefit from China's market focus. We get to talk to the numerous Chinese publishers and booksellers who are in London this year. It also gives us the opportunity to showcase our best writers and our key projects."
Cambridge University Press' CEO Stephen Bourne, running a heavyweight book series about China called Cambridge China Library, says, "The high economic growth rate in China over the past five years, when most other major economies have been suffering, makes the Chinese market attractive."
Bourne also noticed China's effort in promoting international trade.
"Chinese publishers have made progress in organizing their industry and is beginning to look at foreign markets as a destination for their output," he says. "And the declared commitment of the Chinese government to respect international copyrights adds to that."
Bourne is hoping to use the fair to reaffirm his ties with Chinese publishers. "We are a torch bearer in developing our business in partnership with China and in recognizing that publishers are in a prime position to help China be better understood by audiences in the West," he says.
Arthur Probsthain bookstore owner Michael Sheringham, whose family also organizes reading and discussion sessions of contemporary Chinese stories, says, "I think it's good to highlight China in the London Book Fair and especially Chinese writers for a better understanding of the nation."
Some say China was selected as the ninth market focus because both countries are Olympic hosting nations.
"The London Olympics creates a special connection between our two countries," Joanna Burke, cultural and education counselor of the British Embassy to China, tells China Daily.
Burke, who is also the director of the British Council in China, believes that China is immensely important in both cultural and commercial terms in the international publishing arena. The council is a partner of the book fair.
"China is also a crucial publishing market in terms of exporting Chinese literature to the world and providing opportunities for international publishing companies in China," she says.
"We have been developing cultural connections between the UK and China ourselves for 33 years so it seems appropriate in the Olympic year to ensure that the exchange is two way."
She also notes that China's successful appearances as guest nation at several international book fairs recently serves as another reason for the country being chosen as the fair's market focus.
The Chinese delegation, the largest ever to the United Kingdom, is extending and promoting Chinese culture at the Fair; while the UK is seeking opportunities to make the exchange a two-way traffic.
According to the London Book Fair website, the market focus initiative aims to showcase major new markets and provide a platform for the UK and international publishers to liaise with their foreign counterparts.
The organizers have also planned some colorful fringe events.
"The events will allow British audiences to explore Chinese contemporary literature in depth and to gain a better understanding of different genres, themes and perspectives," Susie Nicklin, director of literature of British Council, says.
"They can also experience the amazing breadth and diversity of Chinese literature today."