Confirming widespread expectations, the Beijing International Book Fair has finally made a public confirmation that it will be held as an online edition only this year. BIBF begins on 26th August.
Dubbed “Smart BIBF 2020”, this year's event will "provide rich online resources to give publishers the chance to exhibit, network and negotiate virtually", which will be available for a year, the fair said. Registration will be free to widen involvement, with premium paid-for services also available to exhibitors "to provide a full and rich BIBF experience".
The fair’s platform will provide professional events, as well as networking opportunities and a new rights centre to expand international access. A new “Smart Rights Link” will provide an online matchmaking service, inviting exhibitors to upload their catalogues, display materials and videos, and offering intelligent recommendations with one-click invitations allowing site visitors to create their own meetings schedule. This service will be free of charge until 31st December 2020.
Meanwhile “Smart Learning” will include online conferences with expert speakers and BIBF’s Insights Masterclass, a series of livestreaming masterclasses featuring the latest industry trends and global case studies.
An Online Libraries Acquisitions Service will make the import and export of publications for libraries easier than before, BIBF promised.
This year’s guest of honour, Cuba, will also present a full programme of online activities highlighting the country's culture.
Fair director Liying Lin said: “We decided to turn this difficult situation into a positive opportunity to engage with exhibitors by creating Smart BIBF, to offer publishers a full exhibition and sales experience via a new, world-leading platform.
“We are reaching out to those who have never had the chance to visit or exhibit at BIBF before, as well as welcoming back previous visitors, exhibitors and friends from across the world."
She added: “The publishing industry in China is resilient and recovering well from the effects of Covid-19. The retail book market is bouncing back, with children’s titles, edutech and digital products all showing particularly healthy growth. These sectors will be among the highlights of the virtual Fair."
The Smart BIBF Rights Link portal, www.bibf.net, will be open for registration and uploading exhibits from 15th July, and scheduling appointments from 15th August. Further information on the online services will be provided in August.
Last year more than 2,600 publishers, representing 95 countries and regions, attended the fair.
Separately, Hong Kong's book fair has been postponed, amid a "third wave" of coronavirus, it has been reported.