April 2009 Archives

What a Weekend!

I spent two full days at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend!

Now that I live in Los Angeles, not only was I able to attend the Festival, but I was also able to work with a couple bookstores to have our authors participate and do book signings at the booths. Hosting authors and doing signings myself for The Prince's Diary meant that I wasn't able to sit in on any panels, but I did have plenty of time to wander around and enjoy the perfect California weather.

Other than Book Expo, the LATFOB must have the highest concentration of authors and illustrators you'll ever see in one place. And if you're a book lover like me, as I assume you are, you get that giddy feeling of spying a celebrity whenever you see one. My first sighting occurs soon after my arrival at the Festival, when who did I run into but the Very Hungry Caterpillar himself? The man (or bug) of the hour?

DSC_0190.jpgOnce I took my photo-op, I hurried on to the booth of East West Discovery Press, who was hosting most of the Shen's authors this weekend. East West Discovery Press is a publisher and retailer of multicultural and bilingual children's books. John Stickler and Soma Han were just finishing up their signing, and East West's owner told me that sales were looking good so far.

I think everyone was a little worried about the Festival this year, given the economic climate. However, throughout the weekend, I felt such pride and happiness to see thousands upon thousands of people show so much enthusiasm for books and buying books. People crowded in every booth, lines formed at every cash register. I was so happy to see that the slow economy did not show its face at all this weekend.

DSC_0216.jpgAfter my signing, I finally got to meet Malathi Michelle Iyengar as she arrived for her hour. We were stacked one after another, we were!

On Sunday, Dorina Lazo Gilmore arrived for her signing at both East West Discovery Press and Philippine Expressions, a wonderful mail-order bookstore that specializes in books about the Philippines and by Filipinos.

Because the East West booth was located in the children's area of the Festival, we had a good view of the children's stage and courtyard. I couldn't believe how many families were packed into this space! All those little readers clutching books as they ran around, or flipping pages while being pushed in a stroller, was just so heartwarming to see.
DSC_0230.jpgA memory: one boy looked at The Prince's Diary and I explained to him what it was about. "I want it," he cried to his mother. She replied that she didn't have her wallet, and they would have to ask Daddy. "But I want it!" he began to whine. "OK, we'll go find Daddy," she said. "I want it! I want it!" he cried as he follwed his mother away. I couldn't help but feel good, despite the minor tantrum, about this boy who wanted a book so badly. Happily, they were back in a few minutes with wallet in hand. The boy's beaming face as he walked away with his book make my job the best one in the world.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore signs at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
April 26, 2009

Visions: Renee at the LA Times Festival of Books, 2009

Renee Ting signs at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
April 25, 2009


Visions: Malathi at the LA Times Festival of Books, 2009

Malathi Michelle Iyengar signs at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
April 25, 2009

John Stickler and Soma Han signing at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
April 25, 2009
Besides doing a lot of sightseeing and eating during my week in China, I spent a significant amount of time thinking about books. We were welcomed to Hangzhou by executives and editors at the Zhejiang Juvenile and Children's Publishing House, the Zhejiang University Press, and the Zhejian Sinour Industry Co, an import/export organization. I also spent hours wandering bookstores inb oth Hangzhou and Shanghai.

Children's Book publishing has it pretty good in China: it's a growing segment of the industry, and there's somewhat less government oversight (read: censorship) regarding book content. However, it is still essentially a nationalized industry, and the government still owns all publishing companies, though they are run individually.

Additionally, publishers cannot sell their books abroad; that's where the import/export company comes in. They distribute books to other countries, and they are also authorized to import books for sale in local stores. Thus, if we wanted to sell a U.S. edition of one of our books, we could not directly contact and sell to the bookstores (most of which are also government run). We would need to work with the import company to distribute our books to the stores.

It's all much more beauraucratic and complicated than we're used to, and it means that meeting with and developing a relationship with these companies is a huge step in working with the book industry in China. And companies in China are now open to working with us. Just a few short years ago, the possibility of partnerships with foreign companies was unthinkable; now it's even encouraged.

There isn't a huge market for U.S. book imports in China right now-- but interest in learning English is growing there, just as interest in learning Chinese is growing here in the U.S.. Right now we're doing what we can-- we have bought the English translation rights to a set of story books, and we're talking with the importers about what they need and what they can move. It's still early in the game of book and information flow between our two countries, but it's an interesting market to keep an eye on, and the door open.

China, 1987 and 2009

D-3.jpgNext Tuesday, I will be off to China for a week! I'm getting excited/panicky about my imminent departure, but I think I'm almost ready. I have my passport, a visa and a plane ticket, and that's all you need, really, to go to China. Maybe some clean underwear, too.

I'm traveling with my parents to Shanghai and Hangzhou. In Hangzhou, we're going to meet with the representatives of the Zhejiang Juvenile and Children's Book Publishing House (浙江少年儿童出版社), whom we are working with on a translation project for this coming fall. We are also going to do some sightseeing around Hangzhou, and then I will head to Shanghai to see some friends, while my parents go on to Taiwan.

My husband and I visited Beijing in 2006, but the last time I was in Shanghai was 1987! I distinctly remember Shanghai as being the most crowded city I had ever seen-- the streets were a river of bicycles and the wide sidewalks were shoulder-to-shoulder full of people. It was a city simply stuffed with people. That was in 1987, when the population of Shanghai was only about 11 million. Now it's almost 19 million.

I can't wait to see this thoroughly modern city grown out of the traditions of a 3,000-year-old culture. I'm looking forward to laying new images over my old memories. If I have some internet access, I'll post pictures while I'm there.

I know, this picture of me in 1987 wasn't taken in Shanghai, but it's all I have digitized. And I thought you all would find it amusing.

Apr 25-26, 2009 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

latfob.gifThe Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is the most amazing public book festival! It is HUGE HUGE HUGE, with hundreds of booths featuring more books than you ever imagined seeing in one place. Not only that, but there are book discussion panels for two days straight, and countless author signings.

This year, Shen's Books will have four of our authors participating in signings at booths. Here's the schedule (to be updated as more information becomes available):

Saturday, April 25:

John Stickler and Soma Han sign Land of Morning Calm and Tigers, Frogs & Rice Cakes
10:00am - 11:00am
East West Discovery Press, Booth 845

Roseanne Thong signs The Wishing Tree and many other titles
11:00am - 12noon
East West Discovery Press, Booth 845

Renee Ting (that's me!) signs The Prince's Diary
4:00pm - 5:00pm
East West Discovery Press, Booth 845

Sunday, April 26
Dorina Lazo Gilmore signs Cora Cooks Pancit

10:30am - 12 noon
East West Discovery Press, Booth 845

1:00pm - 3:00pm
Philippine Expressions, Booth 427D-Dickson Plaza Mid

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
April 25-26, 2009
Los Angeles, CA

Linda Gerdner, author of Grandfather's Story Cloth, will be speaking at a symposium at the 14th Annual Hmong National Conference on April 3, 2009. She will be giving an individual presentation on her book.

14th Annual Hmong National Conference
April 3, 2009
Appleton Radisson Paper Valley Hotel
Appleton, Wisconsin

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Blog Contributors

Renee Ting is the President and Publisher of Shen's Books. She is the author of The Prince's Diary and the blog, Renee's Book of the Day.

Emily Jiang is a writer of children's and YA literature. She also blogs at TLeaf Readings.

Shen’s Books is a publisher of multicultural children’s literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia.

Through books, we can share a world a stories, building greater understanding and tolerance within our increasingly diverse communities as well as throughout our continuously shrinking globe.


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