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In with the old, in with the new

By Mei Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-01 08:30
The Beijing International Book Fair is very much a learning trip to broaden publishers' market knowledge. [Photo provided to China Daily]

One of the many works unveiled in conjunction with the fair served to underline that while new technology is providing a crucial foundation for Chinese publishing as it faces the future, such tomes that point to the country's past will continue to have a pivotal and lucrative role.

The work in question, the 10-volume Ornamental Patterns from Ancient Chinese Textiles, published by Zhejiang University Press, includes a fascinating tale of international conflict wrapped in silk.

When China was living through the early Qing Dynasty and Empire Kangxi (1654-1722) was on the throne, Peter the Great of the Russian Empire fought several battles against the Swedish Empire.

Some failed, and the Russian army's flags were seized by the Swedes and have been carefully archived until this very day.

It turned out that the Russian flags were made of silk and made in China.

To the surprise of Zhao Feng, a silk expert and director of the National Silk Museum in Beijing, these flags that are kept in a Swedish museum fill some of the missing links in our knowledge of early-Qing silk relics in China.

"We didn't know much of what silk products looked like in that period, and now they have been given an appearance thanks to this set of books."

The books are said to be the first of their kind for the breadth of scale in their researching, recording and being able to restore for the public record more than 10,000 ancient silk relics.

With Zhao's series, visitors to the Beijing International Book Fair were thrown into a sea of digital data even as they remained on dry land relishing the continued beauty of printed books.

The Beijing International Book Fair is very much a learning trip to broaden publishers' market knowledge. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Let it be noted, too, that this mingling of the old and new is hardly ... new. In fact some early telegraph and computer technology is said to owe its creation to careful study and copying of how silk was weaved into patterns on machines in ancient China. That kind of melding of old and new was evident in abundance at the fair.

SDX Joint Publishing Company announced that in conjunction with the global academic publisher Springer Nature it would bring out a work in English on Fujian tulou, rural dwellings particular to the Hakka of Fujian province.

In one work on display at the Beijing fair Citic Press has Ye Luying, a young illustrator, and Yu Zhiying, a writer, retelling stories of the legendary beauty Luo Shen from ancient paintings by Gu Kaizhi (348-409) in an illustrated book.

Organizers said 5,678 copyright deals were completed at the fair, 7.9 percent more than last year. They included 3,610 copyrights that Chinese publishers sold to overseas market, and 2,068 bought from overseas.

Countries related to the Belt and Road Initiative keep being the top buyers of Chinese copyrights. The fair also featured forums such as the Belt and Road Academic Summit for the New Era by the Renmin University Press, and the Belt and Road Publishing Forum by the 16th Beijing International Book Festival.

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