重啟出版的南方之門

台灣二度擔任曼谷書展主題國
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2018 / 6月

文‧蘇俐穎 圖‧林格立


時間就落在宋干節(泰國新年)前夕,也是學生出閘的暑假,堪稱亞洲規模最大,足足是台北國際書展的3倍,約180萬人共襄盛舉的曼谷國際書展,就在詩麗吉皇后國家會議中心堂堂展開。

對於泰國讀者來說,這場囊括一般圖文書、動漫、輕小說,甚至文具、文創商品的大型會展,無疑是一場不容錯過的盛會;也是台灣繼2007年以後再度獲邀成為書展主題國,不論是象徵台泰友好的文化外交,或是為出版業者對東南亞市場的投石問路,都顯得別具意義。

 


 

走入一向以強大包容力著稱的泰國,不僅傳統與現代並駕齊驅,就連外來文化都能在此掙得一席之地。以曼谷書展為例,會展中心的穿堂,巨大的神像浮雕拔地而起,像護衛著底下絡繹不絕的人潮,這個令人難以忽視的裝置藝術,除了突顯泰國是佛教國家的本質,也宣告著高度成熟的設計水平。

再細看現場商品,這個以銷售書籍為主,而非版權買賣的書展,十足反映普羅大眾當前的閱讀趨勢。以中國古代為背景的網路小說大行其道,另有大量的BL、恐怖小說、日本動漫、美國動漫……大眾文類市場蓬勃;此外,穿插著設計大膽、裝幀精美,頗有歐風的翻譯文學類書籍,甚至是中國文史類書籍、印度主題類書籍,以及與泰國皇室、軍政相關書籍……共冶一爐,讓會場就像多方文化相互震盪的現場。

幽默共饗台泰閱讀盛宴

在這樣眾聲喧嘩的場域,作為主賓的台灣,也擘劃出三大展區,包含展現台灣風土民情、文化特色的「主題國展區」;以推介台灣不同類型書籍為主的「國際版權書區」;以運用台灣漫畫雜誌《Creative Comic Collection創作集》連載內容進行虛擬實境體驗的「CCC漫筆虛實展區」,加上穿插大量的音樂、電影、作家講座等超過50場的藝文活動,讓民眾留下鮮明的台灣印象。

交流除了意味著平等、開放,更關鍵的是彼此伸出友誼之手,才能有來有往。除了從出版、音樂、電影、茶藝,乃至科技等不同面向,大舉展現台灣的文化軟實力,如何與泰方主場互動,也在在考驗著台灣的能耐與器量。

承接下主題國展館策展人重擔的設計師蕭青陽,試圖從台灣與泰國的相似性裡,尋找對話的可能,包含老是讓西方人混淆的國名拼音、地理與氣候上的相近性等。最後,他以「Tai-Thai Reading」的主題為整體定調,運用台灣民間經典的布袋戲偶,成為場館的主視覺設計,兩兩一組,就像兩本翻開的書,彼此閱讀、對話。

書展還沒展開,交流就已經在發生。蕭青陽說,泰國文創執亞洲之牛耳,「不只很有設計力、很洋化,甚至還有隱藏的幽默感,這是經過很多年進化的。」在這樣的設計大國策展,備感兢兢業業之餘,也為他提點出不一樣的觀點。

就像曼谷書展的主視覺印象,是以黑線簡單勾勒出人在閱讀的圖樣,乍看之下簡直像國中生的隨興塗鴉,他說:「在一個設計很先進的國家,已經進入到很kuso、隨興的部份,這反而提醒我不要太嚴肅。」因此,他將「Tai-Thai Reading」的縮寫「TTR」,設計成令人莞爾的笑臉,相互有了對話。

傳統的內涵,文娛的形式

泰國獨特的文化,一向是刺激文創產業進化的活水源頭,而文化則來自於民間長時間的累積。作為主題國的台灣,也由傳統的庶民生活著手,並以符合現代人的娛樂形式作展演,恰如這個毋需購票即可入場,猶如大型市集的書展,不約而同都以大眾為依歸。共通的通俗性,得以讓展區、表演融入現場,互相增色。

好比九天民俗技藝團以電音演出台灣傳統廟會的陣頭,三太子也到場助陣;國立交響樂團特別安排演奏〈丟丟銅仔〉等台灣民謠。最具指標性的台灣館,所展覽的近年新書,內容環繞著常民生活展開,包含原住民族、飲食生活、山岳旅遊等幾大類,展館中穿插陳設台灣民間常見的圓桌板凳、布袋戲偶、台灣第一台自產的「幸福號」腳踏車……再通過設計美感的統合,為泰國讀者勾勒出初步的台灣印象。

另外,位在會場另一端的「CCC漫筆虛實展區」更是獨領風騷,策展內容來自《蘭人異聞錄》、《異人茶跡》、《北城百畫帖》、《龍泉俠大戰迷霧人》等幾套以台灣人文歷史為主題的漫畫,背景橫跨大航海時代、清代、日治等不同時期,再運用浮空投影、ARGoogle Tango空間動態偵測等技術,搭配Asus ZenFone手機,讓民眾進行數位體驗,遊戲之餘,也深化對於台灣的認識。

業者集體南向,推動版權交易

雖然現場台泰互動良好,不過事實上,在2016年以前,有8年台灣出版社都不曾赴泰參展,今年也是繼2007年以後,二度受邀為主題國,除了安排密集的藝文活動演出,另有156家出版社帶著上千本自製書參展。國際版權書區除了安排媒合版權交易的「版權推介會」,另行舉辦「台泰版權論壇」,邀請代表性業者從文學類、教育類、童書、電子書等不同領域進行產業簡報,讓生疏的雙方加速熟悉。

事實上,泰國讀者對華語作品並不陌生,超過百年以前便有《三國演義》、《西遊記》等古典作品翻譯入泰國,晚近也曾風行金庸、古龍、黃易等武俠小說,近兩年,由於中國網路文學崛起,加上不少作品翻拍成影視作品,帶動以中國古代為背景的長篇網路小說盛行。

然而,中國圖書的成長,另一方面意味擠壓台灣的生存空間,台北市出版商業同業公會理事長盧欽政談到,其實,早期東南亞華文書是以台灣圖書為主,但由於市場逐漸被大陸搶佔,加上過去談版權交易都是單一出版社為主,單打獨鬥之下成果相當有限,輸出機會減少以後,也造成出版社中斷赴泰參展。

然而,泰國資深中文譯者王道明談及對台灣、大陸作品的觀察,他表示,台灣因延續中華文化傳統,作品風格較為保守,中國大陸由於歷經過文革的洗牌,反而能不拘一格、大氣揮灑,展現出天馬行空的想像力,他說:「台灣作品多講人、講小東西,較少談戰爭、歷史,但對人的情感就處理得很細膩,其實是各有各的精緻。就像電影一樣,台灣像好萊塢電影那樣的作品較少,但文藝電影就比較多。」

不過,除了文學作品以外,在台泰版權論壇上,時報文化董事長趙政岷便提及,即便出版產業產值不斷萎縮,台灣出版蓬勃依舊,2017年台灣就有超過4萬本新書出版,平均1天就有約110本,如今正是分眾化市場的時代。光磊國際版權經紀公司東南亞版權經紀人徐彩嫦則指出,台灣圖書種類以多元取勝,可與中國大陸的大套系古裝小說作出區隔,也是輸出南向的機會所在。盧欽政則表示,隨著東南亞國家經濟水平逐漸揚升,對於教育、繪本、養生、生活實用等類型的書籍需求漸增,台灣圖書品質亦佳,將會是搶攻當地市場的優勢。

文化外交,打造國家品牌形象

不過,在台灣、大陸同文同種的背景之下,不論是泰國的一般讀者或出版業界,對於台灣的認識依舊相當模糊,而設置台灣主題館、CCC漫筆虛實展區,以及藝文活動演出,無不是盼望能加強對台灣的了解。

在翻譯工作之餘,也成立蜘蛛文化出版社的王道明,由於早年進入譯界便是由台灣作品開始,十多年來,一直與台灣有著不解之緣。蜘蛛文化目前出版侯文詠的三部小說:《靈魂擁抱》、《危險心靈》、《白色巨塔》,王道明在書封上特地放上台灣地圖,標榜來源;《危險心靈》與《白色巨塔》,更因得到台灣文化部出版補助,在歷年書展都曾開放教育界、醫界從業人員免費索取,藉著作品的擴散,加深泰國讀者對於台灣民情的認識。

作家對談,泰國的奇妙遇見

受惠於泰國豐沛的文化能量,一趟曼谷書展,也為台灣帶來豐饒的收穫。

這一回的曼谷書展,邀請作家亞榮隆撒可努、紀大偉、何敬堯、張西、林立青、陳美燕、侯文詠、許育榮、邱承宗……等人,各自從原住民、同志、神魔奇幻、網路書寫、繪本、青少年……等不同角度出發,從個人講座到與泰國作家對談,除了展現台灣紛呈多元的文學景觀,也在激盪中激發文化演進的動能。

曼谷書展猶如跨年一般的洶湧人潮,以及可比電子展的熱烈買氣,加上豐富的圖書種類、活躍的電子書廠商與宅配物流系統等,是許多作家驚嘆的第一印象。

不過,作家林立青也觀察到,曼谷書展以強調商品性為主,買氣熱絡,相較於台北書展大量的藝文沙龍,讀者習慣與作家面對面互動,在這裡卻仍罕見,這也許是台泰之間可以交流的項目。

小說家何敬堯則表示,書展現場各國文化相互爭豔,也都有各自的特色,令他重新確認,自己目前以妖怪主題為台灣尋找文化獨特性,當是一條可行之路;而現場暢銷的繪本、童書,則啟發他可運用妖怪主題創作兒童繪本,持續為保存民間傳說努力。

最早從網路開始發表作品的小說家張西,她嫻熟使用網路社群媒體,也藉由在網路上尋找陌生人作訪談,從他人的故事蒐集寫作素材,獨特的創作模式,激勵了與她對談的泰國作家Round Finger,他表示也想嘗試使用相同的方法去挖掘更多的動人故事。

讀者收穫滿載,出版業者尋覓市場商機,作家、設計師在文化的異質碰撞裡各有斬獲……為期11天的曼谷國際書展雖已在45日畫下句點,不過,重啟的南向之門才開啟,合作交流的故事正要發生。

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近期文章

英文

The Bangkok International Book Fair

Lynn Su /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Robert Green

The 2018 Bangkok International Book Fair opened on 29 March, on the eve of Songkran, the Thai new year festival, and coinciding with the annual two-month holiday for Thai students. It is Asia’s largest book fair, about three times larger than the annual Tai­pei International Book Exhibition. Held in the splendid Queen Si­ri­kit National Convention Center, this year’s event attracted some 1.8 million visitors.    

For the second time in 11 years, Taiwan has been invited to the book fair as its guest of honor, symbolizing both the close cultural exchanges between the two countries and the success of Taiwan’s publishers in making inroads into Southeast­-Asian markets.


 

Thailand has always been known for its openness and tolerance, a place where the traditional and the modern coexist, where even foreign cultures can find a welcoming place. At the book fair, for example, a giant Buddhist relief carving watched over the endless stream of visitors as they entered. The art installation left quite an impression, and highlighted the importance of Buddhism in Thailand. It also hinted at the country’s high degree of design sophistication.

The Bangkok Book Fair focuses on retail sales rather than industry deals over marketing rights. A survey of the publications exhibited therefore provides insight into current reading trends. It shows a flourishing ­popular literary market and considerable interest in online novels set in ancient China. There was also much in the way of yaoi (boys’ love) fiction, horror fiction, Japanese manga and anime, and American comics. Also on display were boldly designed and delicately bound liter­ary translations reminiscent of European publications. The exhibition hall resembled a cultural smorgasbord, with publications on ancient Chinese literature and history, books with Indian themes, and works on the royal family, politics and military of Thailand.

Finding humor in shared confusion

As the guest of honor at this year’s book fair, Taiwan set up three exhibition areas within the busy convention center. The International Pavilion featured a Taiwan Pavilion that displayed the unique characteristics of Taiwanese arts and culture. In the international copyright section, Taiwanese publishers introduced a rich variety of publications. The third exhibition area was called the “Creative Comic Collection (CCC) Exhibition,” and featured virtual reality displays of comics serialized in the Taiwanese magazine Creative Comic Collection. In addition there were more than 50 other cultural events, including musical performances, movies, and literary discussions, that helped introduce visitors to Taiwan.

The cultural exchanges attempted to create a spirit of equality and openness, and most of all to express the mutual friendship between the countries. It took immense creativity and resilience for the organizers to successfully pull off the event. 

Designer Xiao Qing-yang, who curated the Taiwan Pavilion, coaxed out possibilities for dialogue by focusing on similarities between the cultures of Taiwan and Thailand, such as geographic and climatic similarities and the similar spelling and sound of the countries’ names, which leads to so much confusion for foreigners. He decided to use “Tai-Thai Reading” as a general theme that captured the sentiment. He used glove puppetry, a classic folk art in Taiwan, to create a thematic visual element for the Taiwan Pavilion. Pairs of puppets faced each other from two sides of an open book, appearing to read and talk to each other.

The graphic theme for this year’s Bangkok International Book Fair was a sketch of a reader with a simple black outline, which at first glance looks like a schoolkid’s doodle. “This reminded me not to be too serious,” Xiao says. “When a country is already well advanced in design concepts, it can afford to be playful and irreverent.”

He therefore designed a logo for the “Tai-Thai Reading” exhibit with the initials “TTR” forming the eyes and mouth of a smiley face, which in turn brought smiles to visitors’ faces.

Old traditions, new entertainments

Thailand’s unique culture has always provided rich source material for the creative industries and draws upon centuries of folk tradition. Taiwan’s exhibits also drew inspiration from the lives of ordinary people and integrated contemporary entertainment styles, in a way that chimed with the character of the book fair overall, with its free admission and atmosphere reminiscent of a large-scale traditional fair. This shared approach of mass appeal and focus on the public enabled the Taiwanese exhibits and performances both to blend in with the book fair and to complement it. 

Chio-Tian Folk Drums and Arts Troupe, for example, performed a traditional temple procession to the accompaniment of electronic music, and the costumed temple character Prince Ne­zha joined the performance. The National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra performed a rendition of some traditional folksongs. The flagship Taiwan Pavilion displayed publications focused on facets of people’s daily lives, including the experiences of Aboriginal peoples, food and drink, and tourism in Taiwan’s mountain areas. The pavilion was decorated with typically Taiwanese round tables and stools, theatrical glove puppets, and an exemplar of the first model of bicycle manufactured in Taiwan. The exhibit’s designers combined these elements into an aesthetically pleasing whole that sketched out an initial impression of Taiwan for Thai readers.

On the opposite side of the exhibition hall, the CCC Exhibition provided perhaps the most unusual of all the exhibits. Using aerial projection, augmented reality, and Google Tango spatial motion detection technology in combination with Asus ZenFone smartphones, visitors could enter a virtual reality world based on various comic­-book series that explore Taiwanese culture and history. Aside from the fun of it all, visitors could gain a deeper understanding of Taiwan.

Seeking market share in Southeast Asia

The success of this year’s exhibition notwithstanding, Taiwanese publishers did not participate in the Bangkok International Book Fair for eight years after being first honored as the guest nation in 2007. This year, however, aside from the busy schedule of arts and culture events, 156 publishers exhibited thousands of books. In the international copyright section, publishers and distributors discussed distribution rights at the Foreign Rights Exchange Seminar, while at the Publishing Industry Forum of Taiwan and Thailand, guest speakers gave presentations on various fields, such as literature, education, children’s literature, and e-books, allowing professionals from the two countries to get to know their counterparts.

Readers in Thailand are, in fact, no strangers to Chinese-language publications. Lu Qin­zheng, chairman of the Association of Taipei Publishers, explains that in earlier times Chinese publications in Southeast Asia came mainly from Taiwan, but later mainland Chinese publishers gradually took over the market. Moreover, in the past Taiwanese publishing houses mostly negotiated copyright deals individually, but this approach yielded little success. As their market share dwindled, Taiwanese publishers eventually withdrew from Thailand’s book fairs.

During the Publishing Industry Forum of Taiwan and Thailand, James C.M. Chao, chairman of the China Times Publishing Company, pointed out that even as the overall value of Taiwan’s publishing industry continues to decline, publishing on the island remains vibrant. In 2017 more than 40,000 new books were published in Taiwan, an average of 110 a day. It is truly an age of market fragmentation. 

Itzel Hsu, a literary agent for the Grayhawk Agency, said that the diversity of Taiwan’s publications allows them to be competitive and sets them apart from the serialized historical fiction published in China. This also creates a market opportunity for sales in Southeast Asia. Lu Qin­zheng pointed out that demand for publications on education, health and daily life, as well as picture books, has risen along with economic growth in Southeast Asia. The high quality of Taiwan’s publications will also be a major asset in expanding market share.

Thailand through writers’ eyes

Thailand’s cultural richness ensured that participation in this year’s book fair would be of great benefit to Taiwan.

A number of authors from Taiwan participated in exhibition events, including Sa­kinu Ya­long­long, Chi Ta-wei, Ho Ching­-yao, ­Chang Hsi, Lin Li-­ching, Chen Mei-yan, Ho Wen-yung, Hsu Yu-jung, and Chiu Cheng-tsung. They represented diverse communal voices—Aboriginal and gay, for example—and a variety of genres, including fantasy, online writing, picture books and young adult literature. Through individual talks and panel discussions with Thai authors, these writers showcased the variety of Taiwan’s literary landscape and enlivened the cultural exchanges.

The first impression of many writers at the Bangkok Book Fair is often one of amazement. The crowds are as thick as during New Year celebrations and visitors can seem much like frenzied shoppers at an electronics show. This year’s displays featured a remarkable variety of publications, as well as e-book publishers and makers of logistics systems used for home delivery distribution. 

Author Lin Li-­ching, however, pointed out that the Bangkok Book Fair emphasizes merchandize and a lively shopping experience. This is quite a contrast to the Tai­pei International Book Exhibition, which features many more literary talks and where visitors are used to meeting authors in person, something that rarely happens at the Bangkok event. These differences might prove instructive for the organizers in both countries.

Fiction writer Ho Ching­-yao noted that the various cultures on display at the book fair competed to outshine each other but they are in fact all quite unique in their own way. Seeing the rich variety on display, he became even more convinced that his own writing about yao­guai (demons and monsters) is a viable way to showcase the originality of Taiwanese culture. After seeing the brisk sales for picture books and children’s books at the fair, it dawned on him that he could create children’s picture books with those fantastical creatures and thus help preserve traditional folklore. 

When the 11-day Bangkok International Book Fair drew to a close on April 5, readers came away satisfied, publishers had found new market opportunities, and authors and designers had all benefited from the creative collision of cultures. The event has rekindled Taiwanese interest in Southeast-Asian markets, and tales of further cultural cooperation are sure to follow.

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