Breaking the Status Quo: CCBF 2020 Emerges from the Pandemic as the Leading Physical and Digital Platform

From 13 to 15 November 2020, the Eighth Edition of the Shanghai International Children's Book Fair (CCBF) will take place at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Centre. Launched in 2013, CCBF has established itself as a leading hub for international rights exchange and all other professional activities surrounding contents for children aged 0–16 over the past few years.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created profound disruption in the industry throughout this year. Fair organisers around the world were forced to cancel their events or struggled to redesign their projects due to unpredictable circumstances. Thanks to the strict lockdown and social distancing enforced by the government, economic operation and social life have gradually returned to normal. In Shanghai, several significant exhibitions have taken place in a physical form with stringent public health measures in the past few months. More shows will follow suit, including CCBF 2020, which is held under the guidance of the Press and Publication Administration, organised by Shanghai Xinhua Distribution Group Co., Ltd., China Education Publishing & Media Group Ltd., and China Universal Press & Publication Co., Ltd., and co-organised by RonboBolognaFiere Shanghai Ltd.

This year, CCBF will take place in a venue covering 25,000 square metres, divided into two sections, Professional Zone, which includes Copyright Zone and Hybrid Zone, and Public Zone. The Fair will showcase 60,000 recent children's titles, among which 20,000 are overseas publications hailing from 21 different countries and territories. Over 300 online and offline professional programmes and readers’ events will be held concurrently with the exhibition. Given the current travel restrictions, CCBF also launched the International Book Showcase and online Matchmaking System to accommodate exhibitors and visitors who cannot participate in person and present them an equally exciting exhibition experience.

Here are four highlights from the upcoming event:

1. Exhibitors across the globe remain optimistic about the Fair

This year, CCBF brings together more than 350 leading publishers and children's content players from 21 countries and territories. The list goes from global corporations to independent publishers and from China state organisations to private ventures. Among them, overseas exhibitors account for more than 30%.

Additionally to the country pavilions regularly represented at CCBF—France (BIEF), UK (Publishers Association) and Korea (KPIPA and KPA) to name a few—, other institutional booths lead by FILI-Finnish Literature Exchange, NORLA-Norwegian Literature Abroad, the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the Royal Thai Embassy in Beijing, and the Consulate General of Canada in Shanghai will showcase a great number of books from their respective countries at CCBF this year. Prestigious and inspiring publishing houses such as Annick Press, Atlantyca, Bayard-Milan, Cappelen Damm, Casterman-Flammarion Jeunesse, Clavis, Éditions du Centre Pompidou, Edizioni Corraini, Dargaud, Dakai, Dea Planeta Libri, Editrice il Castoro, Egmont Kids, Hachette Children’s Group, Franco Cosimo Panini Editore, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing, Highlights for Children, HongFei Cultures, Lemniscaat, Éditions Les 400 coups, Malamalama, Nepko Kids, Orfeu Negro, Overdrive, Oxford University Press, Snake SA/Nui Nui, Twig Education, Topipittori, University of Queensland Press, VoiceBooks, Whitestar, Windy Hallow Books, Zahori Books and many more have confirmed their seats at CCBF 2020 as well.

2. The Fair adapts to new and flexible ways of working to navigate uncertainties

The Fair is designed as an "offline" event whenever possible, with online functionality wherever necessary. While most domestic stakeholders will be attending the book fair physically, international publishers will be joining CCBF through their local representatives or exhibiting their books remotely at the International Book Showcase. Bringing together over 100 companies from France, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Australia, Canada etc., this innovative approach will allow CCBF visitors to discover new titles in their printed version, just as in a traditional book fair.

This offline showcase will be complemented by an online matchmaking system, whose comprehensive online exhibitor directory will enable access to exhibitors' profiles, full catalogues, and latest products as well as connect exhibitors prior to the event. For those attending the Fair in person, the matchmaking system will facilitate in arranging meetings and documenting face-to-face interactions at CCBF (13–15 November). For those who will attend virtually, it offers extended five-day online business interactions through an integrated video conference platform. This is a perfect tool for everyone to follow up on their most exciting finds, or simply engage with other publishers regardless of their geolocation.

3. Embrace change: digitalisation is key

Despite the uncertainties the pandemic has brought to the industry, it has introduced a catalyst for change, emphasising the importance of adapting digitalisation quickly to reflect the ever-changing market. In light of the new trend and need, CCBF has revamped its Digital Hub to create a brand-new section to help explore innovations in children's digital content and digital marketing.

In terms of digital content, the Fair will focus on showcasing new digital products and technologies such as audio content, AR/VR, AI courses, animation games, applications, and hardware devices. Professionals including software developers, digital technology providers, film and television animation studios, online education research and development institutions, multimedia playback platforms, and licencing companies will be brought together to discuss the future of the children's book industry in the context of the digital era.

The Fair will also convene a group of influencers active in WeChat, Weibo, Tik-Tok, and Red (Xiaohongshu) to promote children's books on these platforms. At the Digital Hub, influencers and publishing houses will be connecting and discussing potential collaborations.

4. An event programme enhancing creativity and in line with the current industry concerns

CCBF stands out for the quality and diversity of its professional events. This year, the Fair will continue with most of its events and programmes, such as the Golden Pinwheel Young Illustrators Competition, the Illustrators Survival Corner, Connecting the City, and the Chen Bochui International Children's Literature Award.

Bringing a compelling mix of academic expertise, business know-how and innovative thinking, the CCBF Conference Programme will offer visitors ten highly engaging seminars on a wide variety of topics. While Chinese speakers will attend the conference in person, international speakers will participate in the event through an online conference call or pre-recorded video.

In addition to the aforementioned events and programmes, CCBF 2020 will feature two very special exhibitions. "Children Plus Toddlers Books" will showcase 140 original board books and activity books for children aged 0–3, brought from all around the world in partnership with the Bologna Children's Book Fair. As 2020 also marks the 100th anniversary of Gianni Rodari's birth, an illustration exhibition—"Italian Excellence: Illustrators for Gianni Rodari"—revisits the work of one of the most innovative literary voices of the last century through the wonderful illustrations of Italy's best picture book artists.

Another noteworthy event is the Young Illustrators Avenue which features 60 Chinese emerging illustrators eager to find new applications to their artistic works. It is the absolute platform to meet young talents.

CCBF is organised in the strictest respect of the sanitary measures currently in place in China, to make sure the safety of your visit. We look forward to seeing you in Shanghai this November and reconnecting our industry in this exceptional event.

Appendix 1: Official Conferences and Seminars
Appendix 2: 2020 Golden Pinwheel Young Illustrators Competition
Appendix 3: Illustrators Survival Corner
Appendix 4: Children Plus-Toddlers First Books
Appendix 5: Illustrators for Gianni Rodari. Italian Excellence
Appendix 6: Chen Bochui International Children's Literature Award