Story by James R Haft
Already the largest book fair in Southeast Asia, the Indonesia International Book Fair (IIBF) 2021 attracted as many as 150,000 visitors to the Jakarta Convention Center between 17 and 21 November 2021. But with 17,000 islands of which about 6,000 are inhabited in the country’s archipelago that stretches approximately 5,120 kilometres (3,181 mi) from east to west and the Covid-19 pandemic still limiting travel, the Indonesian Publishers Association (IKAPI) recognised the advantages and benefits they could gain by holding a hybrid event if they teamed up with the virtual ASEAN International Rights Fair (AIRF).
IKAPI first expanded the Indonesia Book Fair (IBF) to become an international event in 2014 by inviting Saudi Arabia as its first Guest of Honour, followed by South Korea in 2015 and Malaysia in 2016. Last year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was conducted totally online, but without a number of virtual functions the AIRF could provide. These began with the interactive central AIRF Pavilion of Honour surrounded by 40 virtual exhibitors from Indonesia, Thailand and other countries. Then there were the 20 trade visitors and members of the alliance of 10 AIRF exhibitors from around Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, all this in addition to the 150 IIBF onsite exhibitors virtual participants could connect with, affording a vast range of business opportunities as well as programming.
The Indonesia International Book Fair 2021 adopted as its concept, ‘Phinisi – Riding the Waves – Empowering, Emerging Force’. The inspiration behind this theme was two-fold. First, the Phinisi, the Bahasa Indonesian word for the gaff sailing rigg of this traditional Indonesian junk that used to sail between Indonesia and Australia carrying spices, represents the culture of this archipelago nation as well as its now burgeoning trade in publishing.
The Indonesia International Book Fair 2021 adopted as its concept, ‘Phinisi – Riding the Waves – Empowering, Emerging Force’. The inspiration behind this theme was two-fold. First, the Phinisi, the Bahasa Indonesian word for the gaff sailing rigg of this traditional Indonesian junk that used to sail between Indonesia and Australia carrying spices, represents the culture of this archipelago nation as well as its now burgeoning trade in publishing. to them via their email.
Surrounding the central pavilion were specially designed 3D exhibitor booths where again by clicking on the image, the booth expanded so visitors could get a closer look of the books and merchandise they were presenting. Visitors could also arrange one-on-one meetings to discuss intellectual rights licensing and conduct other transactions such as purchase payments.
After registering, each participant and visitor was given a ‘Briefcase’ that included subfunctions: ‘Your Sales Kit’, where they could share business cards and documents, ‘Your Calendar’, to manage and view their schedule, and “Meeting” where Chat windows are located to make it easy to connect with others virtually attending IIBF.
Aside from the opportunity to meet with as many as 1900 Indonesian publishers listed as IKAPI members responsible for as many as 80,000 new titles per year, local Indonesia agents and representatives had the chance to network and negotiate with participants joining from throughout ASEAN and far beyond. Furthermore, while the costs for this event were USD50 for a one-day ticket, USD200 for a full-event pass and USD250 for a 3D exhibition booth, any participant from an ASEAN country was given a 100% discount code, and there were many very interesting speeches, discussions and activities to take advantage of and enjoy.
One of the highlights was the ‘ASEAN Forum: Copyright Trading Challenges to Survive During the Pandemic’ panel discussion featuring Arys Hilman Nugraha, Thipsuda Sinchawarnwat, Arief Hakim Sani Rahmat, Chua Hong Koon, Andrea Pasion-Flores, Rosidayati Rozalina, Punrit Taechatada and Dr Tran Doan Lam moderated by Wedha Stratesti Yudha. Based on the experiences and ideas of the panel in copyright trading, they attempted to provide promising options for solutions to face challenges and survive the Covid-19 pandemic.
As part of the opening ceremony presided over by HE Mr Sandiaga Uno, Indonesian Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, HE Mr Vuttikrai Leewiraphan, Director General of the Department of Intellectual Property, Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce, addressed participants onsite and online as to the virtues of hybrid book fairs to promote the industry and especially the protection of intellectual property rights.
Other virtual programs included meeting Agnes Chan, or Agnes Meiling Kaneko Chan, a famous pop singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, PhD and professor, essayist and novelist with more than 90 titles published. A second program introduced the Thai winner of the 1990 SEAWrite Award, Anchalee Vivathanachai, who now resides in San Diego, California, USA and is a regular contributor to Elite+ magazine.
Four other Thai writers featured in online forums were Sukanya Cholasuek, or as she is known by her penname Krisina Asoksin. A Thai National Artist in Literature, she was the winner of the 1958 SEA Write Award and has written more than 150 novels as well as short stories, many of which have been adapted to become films and television dramas. Another program highlighted the life of Thai National Artist in Literature Seksan Prasertkul, who has been writing since his college days, producing creative works consisting of both prose and poetry, short stories, novels, journals, essays, articles, lectures, literary reviews and translations, many renowned for their historical significance Finally, two online forums introduced this year’s and the 2020 winners of the Chomanard Book Prize presented to the best novel by a Thai female author, Chaninthorn Chuen Pho Klang, winner of the 2021 10th Chomanard Book Prize for her novel The Lost Fairy and Witida Ditiecher, winner of the 9th Chomanard Book Prize 2020 for her novel The Loop.
The success of the five-day hybrid Indonesia International Book Fair (IIBF) 2021 is still being calculated. Visitor numbers were above expectations as were book sales. But in addition to this, the networking and rights negotiations made possible by the ASEAN International Rights Fair platform (virf.io) are still to be measured in the number of future publications made possible by this hybrid event.