Visitors to a book fair may not be expecting a film and music zone.
But they will find one at this year’s Singapore Book Fair, with daily screenings of films such as home-grown auteur Royston Tan’s 3688 and Taiwanese drama Panay.
It is part of a strategy to diversify the annual fair’s offerings beyond print books and to attract more than “just a stereotypical crowd” of middle-aged book lovers, said Ms Loh Woon Yen, vice-president of culture, education and new growth at Singapore Press Holdings’ (SPH) Chinese Media Group, which is organising the fair.
The week-long fair, now in its 32nd edition, will feature performances by Malaysian and Taiwanese singers, live broadcasts by SPH’s UFM100.3 radio station and local designers’ arts and crafts.
This is on top of more traditional offerings, such as talks by authors and speakers from Singapore, Taiwan and China.
The fair has also partnered local illustrator Lee Kow Fong, known by his Chinese nom de plume Ah Guo, to decorate the venue. Limited-edition Nets FlashPay cards featuring the artwork will be available.
“Interest in reading still exists here, but it may be moving away from print books,” said Mr Lee in Mandarin. “People may be becoming more accustomed to reading shorter works more quickly, and we have to figure out how to reach our readers in such a format.”
Local Chinese publisher Lingzi Media is among the close to 40 exhibitors headed to the fair, which attracted about 180,000 visitors last year.
“The impact of new media and multimedia on Chinese books in Singapore is not strong as the market here is small,” said Lingzi Media’s executive director Lim Denan.
However, he added: “In the future, Chinese book publishers in Singapore will need to tap and make use of new media to drive their business, or as a channel to market and promote good books.”
On the decision to devote about one-third of floor space to programming other than print books – including a cafe area – Ms Loh, who is also the fair’s chairman, said: “It’s really more to remind people… to sit down, relax, browse through the books and relive the joy of reading.”
The Singapore Book Fair will be held at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre from May 30 to June 5.