National Online Book Fair to "light the fire of knowledge"

April 18, 2022 | 11:08 am GMT+7

The 2022 National Online Book Fair will be held from April 19 to May 20 to celebrate the first Vietnam Book and Reading Culture Day with the message "Lighting the fire of knowledge".


 With this message, this year's book fair focuses on connecting and taking advantage of all social resources to join hands to "light the fire of knowledge" in the whole society, through organising a series of programmes, events and contests, which have humanistic meanings and are expected to spread widely.

Previously, the National Online Book Fair was held in the context of the whole country struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the event still has limitations in terms of technology background, personnel, utilities and connections, it is undeniably a meaningful and useful spiritual activity for readers; creating a driving force for the publishing industry to approach innovation and conquer the market.

It was in the most difficult period, the reading promotion programmes for remote areas and rural areas still received enthusiastic support from many sponsors. That partly shows society's interest in the development of reading culture.

This year, the National Online Book Fair sets specific goals of attracting at least 5 million visitors. With the participation of nearly 100 publishing units nationwide, the fair featured more than 40,000 books; offering minimum book price subsidy from 15%-25% directly from all participating units and subsidies from 30-50% from the reading promotion fund in book price subsidies from sponsors.

The event also provided nearly 30,000 books to readers, providing opportunities to buy books at highly subsidized prices and participate in great knowledge events for readers across the country. At the same time, it also organised at least seven to 12 major talk shows, with the participation of prestigious, famous and influential figures for readers; successfully organised the contest "Wise Men" in an online form to find 100 wise men across the country; applying technology in interaction and creating a national intellectual playground.

Compared to the previous book fair, this year's online book fair has a significant improvement in technology platform. Specifically, the operation team has applied advanced technologies to operate the book floor, integrated transportation technology and social networks to create a space for direct interaction and exchange between publishers and readers. Clear progress showing the initiative is that all provinces and cities across the country sent early plans to organise Vietnam Book and Reading Culture Day to the organising board. However, as many opinions have been discussed on several forums before the event, there are still concerns. Firstly, it is the participation of celebrities in showbiz. In previous events, the list announced by the organising board was quite long, but at the last minute, only a few artists attended. Will the wisdom, inspiration, book stories and reading culture of singers, models, and beauty queens match the expectations of readers? It's a big question and can only be answered fairly and clearly when they show up and interact.

The next issue that always receives attention from readers is the quality of discount books. In previous seasons of book fairs, the backlog books, which often had bland, unattractive content, and poor printing techniques, were sold with discount signs. Or conversely, there are many quality books by famous authors that are still discounted by more than half because many units have been illegally printed.

With this situation, readers and book lovers can only rely on the organising board of this year's Book Fair when they have previously affirmed to control to the highest degree the above-mentioned unhealthy phenomena to ensure prestige, image and profit for authors, publishers and readers.

In addition, how the bookstores will be maintained after the festival is a matter of concern. The online bookstore only booms when there is a meeting. Most publishers won't put up books anymore, while this is still a useful channel.

Last year's online book fair sold 40,000 titles, a good sign that buyers are not only from the centre of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The type of book chosen is usually literature, skills, and inspiration. The results achieved within about a month of an event like 2021 are remarkable, but the book floor can only operate well and not be wasted when all units deploy stable technology.

In the past two years, there have been positive signals from the Online Book Fair, but it is not strong, there is no synchronous foundation in technology and application to create a clear demand in the market or the ability to have a good supply, standards and human resources. For the message "Lighting the fire of knowledge" to become more practical, it is necessary to join hands with the whole society to make a drastic change among readers, publishers, libraries, schools, and families.

In particular, a book festival only has great meaning when the imprint spreads to remote areas, bringing social meaning, contributing to deeper connections, changing dreams and life to cultivate good values for the future.