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Beyond the Pages

In commemoration of the Council’s 50th Anniversary

THE BOOK COUNCIL STORY

1968-2018: Milestones & Memories


Singapore Book Council (formerly National Book Development Council of Singapore) Blk E #03-32 Goodman Arts Centre 90 Goodman Road Singapore 439053 https://bookcouncil.sg Beyond the Pages: The Book Council Story 1968-2018: Milestones & Memories Copyright 2018 Š Singapore Book Council

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system , or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying , recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Published in Singapore


Highlights BIRD’S EYE VIEW A. The Three Phases of the Council

BIRD’S EYE VIEW

A brief overview of the BookProjects Council & Services B. Programmes,

C. Other Leaders

KEEPERS OF THE LIGHT

Key Leaderships throughout the years D. Details of the Three Phases

THE ROAD AHEAD

Book Council highlights across milestone phases


You cannot open a book without learning anything. – Confucius


A BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF DEVELOPMENT The National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) was registered on 19 December 1968 as an Association. Its history for the first 50 years can be divided into three phases. These phases were led and influenced by the four Chairpersons of the Council namely, Mrs Hedwig Anuar, Mr S Gopinathan, Ms Lim Li Kok, and Ms Claire Chiang, all of whom have served in the capacity for several terms.

Phase I The Anuar & Gopinathan Years 1968 to 1988

Phase II The Li Kok & Claire Years 1988 to 2018

Phase III The New Claire Era: The New Chapter 2018 to present


Phase I from 1968 to 1988 were the foundation and development years of the Council. Phase II from 1988 to 2018. The year 1988 was an important year that marked the change in the programmes and vision of the Council as a new and younger team took over the management of the Council. This ushered in a fresh phase: Phase II. Phase III from 2018 to present. Just like 1988, July 2018 is another landmark period as it was the starting point of the new chapter – the Claire era. Claire’s era brought in not only a new management with new ideas for programming but also fundamentally changed the name and the structure of the Council. The National Book Development Council became the Singapore Book Council (a Company of Limited Guarantee) foregoing its former status as an Association. Thus it can be said that Phase III appropriately starts a new chapter of the Council.


Book Council Phases Phase I. Formation and Consolidation The Anuar and Gopinathan Years, 1968 to 1988 Mrs Hedwig Anuar (top photo) served NBDCS over three decades in various capacities such as, Secretary (1969) Vice-Chairperson and Chairperson (1981 to 1988). She remained an Executive Committee member until 1998. Dr S Gopinathan (bottom photo) was first elected as Chairperson of the Book Council in 1973 and served in that capacity for several years. He was reelected to the office in 1989 following Mrs Anuar’s retirement. He served in the Executive Committee until 1998.


Book Council Phases Phase II. Renewal and Revitalisation The Li Kok and Claire Years, 1988-2018: Mr Ramachandran became the Chairperson in 1998 and was succeeded by Ms Lim Li Kok (top photo) in 2004. From then on until 2014, Ms Lim Li Kok played a key role.

Ms Claire Chiang (bottom photo) became Chairperson of NBDCS in 2014. However, her involvement with the Council began in 2010 when she became the Chairperson of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC). Under her leadership AFCC became the signature programme of the NBDCS.


Book Council Phases Phase III. The New Chapter – July 2018 The New Chapter began in July 2018, when Ms Claire Chiang became Chairperson of the Singapore Book Council (SBC), NBDCS’s predecessor. Mr William Phuan (inset), a well-known personality in the Singapore literary scene, was appointed as the new Executive Director (ED) of the Council in March 2018.

Main Focus: writing, training and expanding the audience of the Council

Mr William Phuan


Summary of Programmes & Services Phase I: 1968–1988 Festivals Festival of Books & Book Fair Awards The Book Council Awards The Singapore Literature Prize Training CLAP – Centre of Literary Arts and Publishing Workshop, Courses, Seminars, Talks, Conferences Other Programmes Reading and Book Promotions Programmes The National Reading Month Publications Singapore Book World NBDCS News

Ad Hoc Programmes Commissioned the National Reading Survey Macro database on the Printing and publishing industry Acted as National Agency for the ASEAN children’s books and source materials Began a translation scheme Managed a Reading Trust Fund Sponsored the formation of the Society of Singapore Writers, the Association of Book Designers and Illustrators, and the Society of Reading and Literacy Other Services Upheld Copyright Legislation Set up a Writers Resource Centre at Bukit Merah


Summary of Programmes & Services Phase II & III: 1988–2018 Festivals Asian Festival of Children’s Content All In! Young Writers Festival Singapore International Storytelling Festival Awards Singapore Literature Prize Scholastic Asian Book Award Scholastic Picture Book Award Hedwig Anuar Book Award SEA Write Award Asian Children’s Book Award Training SBC Academy

Services Publications Management Advisory Services - Singapore Writers Centre Ad Hoc Programmes Library Expo Asian Expressions Book Launches Twilight Tales Book Street & Book Drive Fun With Languages Buy Sing Lit


Other Key Figures More than just its staff and sponsors, several individuals were key in building the Book Council to its present strength over the past 50 years.

(Left) Mr Koh Hock Seng, former President of the Singapore Book publishers Association and the CEO of Times Publishing. (Right) Mr Patrick Mowe, former Chief Executive Officer of the MPH Chain Bookstores. Both Hock Seng and Patrick were involved with the Festival of Books and Book Fair Mr Koh Hock Seng

Mr Patrick Mowe


Mr Patrick Goh

Mr Michael Goh

Mrs Kiang-Koh Lai Lin

(Left) Mr Patrick Goh was a senior officer working with MPH. He was a constant supporter of the Festival of Books (Middle) Mr Michael Goh is a former book-seller and book agent. He was the Chairman of the Council from 1971 to1973 and thereafter served as an Executive Council Member for several years (Right) Mrs Kiang Koh Lai-Lin Consultant, NLB. An active member who has and continues to serve the Council to this day. She has been an Executive Council member serving as both Secretary and Treasurer for several terms.


This picture, left to right: Peh Chin Hua, Charles Cher, Low Mun Wai and NT Nair All of these personnel were key figures in the Festival of Books and Book Fair as well as the Book Council since the beginning.

Photoes above: HH Chiam – Federal Publications and Ramachandran – National Library

Lim Ching San – Federal Publications


(Left to right) Mr Arun Mahizhnan, Mr Khor Kok Hwa and Mr Colin Goh were also instrumental in helping to develop the Council particularly in the latter years.


(Top) Serene Wee and Mr Paul Johnson were active during Ms Lim Li-Kok’s phase. (Bottom) Mr Chua Hong Koon and Mr Leo Vincent were key figures in the Executive Committee during the Phase II of Book Council. Both served as office bearers for several terms. Evelyn Wong (inset) was and still is very much a part of the Book Council.


These NBDCS Executive Committee Members with key NBDCS management staff actively

contributed to the development of the Council especially between 2014 and 2018 with Ms Claire Chiang as the Chairperson.


There is no friend as loyal as a book – Ernest Hemingway


Book Council Phases

Phase I. 1968 – 1988 Formation and Foundation The Anuar and Gopinathan Years These three decades were the foundation and development stage of the Council when basic promotional, literacy, reading, training and publishing programmes were put in place. Mrs Hegwig Anuar and S Gopinathan were Chairpersons of the Council for many terms during this period. Key people : NTS Chopra, Koh Hock Seng, Michael Goh, Patrick Goh, Low Mun Wai, Charles Cher, Patrick Meow, R Ramachandran Main Focus: Literacy, Reading, Publishing, Library development, Book Awards, Training and Promotion, Festival of Books and Book Fair, and the Singapore Literature Prize


Soon after the UNESCO meeting (participants of the meeting above) that was held in Singapore, the National Book Development Council of Singapore was registered as an Association on 19 December 1968. The NBDCS functioned as an umbrella organisation for publishers, the book trade, libraries and the literary community.


The NBDCS in 1968 was housed at the former National Library Building along Stamford Road.


Mr NTS Chopra, the first Chairperson of NBDCS, speaking at the 1969 launch of the NBDCS. (Inset) Mrs Hedwig Anuar seated with Mr Jek Yeun Thong (far left).


Guests at the 1969 inaugural launch of the National Book Development Council of Singapore at the National Library on 13 February 1969.


Festival of Books & Book Fair The NBDCS organised the first national event – the Festival of Books and Book Fair – in 1970 at the Victoria Memorial Hall. The Fair became an annual event and was held every year until 1997. The Singapore Book Publishers Association (SBPA) became its joint organiser in 1972. In 1983, both the organisations set up a Festival of Books Pte Ltd to run the Fair. The Book Fair was considered at that time as the most important book event in Singapore.

Minister Jek Yong Tong at the Book Fair in June 1970

Rahim Ishak – Minister of State of Foreign Affairs and NTS Chopra


Festival of Books & Book Fair

Mrs Anuar with Mr Devan Nair, Secretary-General of NTUC who was the Guest of Honour, at the Festival in 1975.


Festival of Books & Book Fair

Mr Goh Keng Swee at the Book Fair in 1977


Mr Chua Sian Chin at the Book Fair in 1978

Festival of Books & Book Fair


Festival of Books & Book Fair

(Above) Mr Ong Teng Chong and (Below) Mr Goh Chok Tong – both were at the Book Fair as guests of honour in 1979 and 1981 respectively


Festival of Books & Book Fair

Festival of Books & Book Fair (From bottom left, clockwise) Ms Lim Li Kok in her stall at the 1986 Singapore Book Fair; Mr S Jayakumar, Lee Khoon Choy and Tay Eng Soon at the Fair in 1983.


Images from the Book Fair in 1994


Festival of Books & Book Fair

The Festival of Books sought to enlarge the scope of the Book Fair in 1994 to include a comprehensive range of electronic publishing and modern communications technology and introduced to publishers e-formats/digital publishing and storage devices such as floppy discs. Despite its success, the Festival closed its doors in 1997.


The key people during Phase 1 who were responsible for the success of the Festival of Books and Book Fair (1970–1998): Koh Hock Seng, Charles Cher, S. Gopinathan, NTS Chopra, Hedwig Anuar, Tan Wu Cheng and Triena Ong.


Book Awards In 1976, the NBDCS Book Awards gave out trophies and token cash awards to winning works. The awards were categorised by genres such as poetry, fiction and children’s books. Awards were given to the four official languages. The last Book Awards were given in 1997. (Inset) Goh Poh Seng’s book “If We Dream Too Long” won the NBDCS Fiction book award in 1976. (Below) Dr Arthur Yap, Dr Yeo Song Nian, Mr Chew Wee Kai and Dr Lee Tzu Pheng who won the NBDCS Book Awards in 1982.


The Book Awards were first given in 1976 and they continued until 1997. (Top left) Mrs Anuar with Ms Claire Chiang and Dr Chan Heng Chee (in blue), at the 1994 presentation ceremony. Ms Claire Chiang (top right) was a recipient of the Book Awards in 1994; (Bottom right) Recipients of the 1994 Book Awards


National Reading Month Launched in 1984, the National Reading Month was held annually until 1994. (Below) A reading and storytelling programme held at the old National Library–Stamford Road.


Training Programmes The focus was on training Singaporeans in literacy, reading, publishing, library development and the literary arts. Workshops, seminars, exhibitions and conferences were also organised in these areas.


Illustrators’ Exhibition Exhibition of Design and illustrations in 1983 (Lower right) Pictured are Mr Cheong Kwai Liew, Mr NTS Chopra, Mr Lim Chin San and Mr Ramachandran.


Book Council Publications The Book Council published the first Readership Survey in 1980. It also published Singapore Book World and the NBDCS News as part of its commitment to the Singapore book community to keep them informed of the happenings in the book world.


Tribute to Mrs Anuar

The book “The Need to Read” was published in honour of Mrs Hegwig Anuar on her retirement as Director of the National Library in 1988 and Chairperson NBDCS. Mrs Anuar continued to serve as an Executive Committee member of the Council till 1998.


MR GOPINATHAN BECOMES CHAIRMAN

Mr Gopinathan became Chairman once again after Mrs Anuar retired in 1988. Mr Gopinathan continued with all the programmes initiated by Mrs Anuar and at the same time introduced four new items as follows: 1. The Reading Trust Fund 2. Singapore Literature Prize for unpublished book 3. Distinguished Writers Lecture series 4. A Resource Centre for writers and publishers


Reading Trust Fund The Reading Trust Fund was launched in February 1992. (Top left) Mr S Rajaratnam launching the Fund (Bottom left) Mr JYM Pillay with guest (right) at the Launch


Singapore Literature Prize The Singapore Literature Prize (SLP) was first launched in 1991 and presented in 1992 to the best unpublished English-language work. The award carried a cash prize of $10,000. The prize was sponsored by the SNP Corporation Ltd.

(Below) Mr Patrick Mowe with Mr Lim of SNP


Suchen Christine Lim was the winner of the inaugural Singapore Literature Prize for the book “A Fistful of Colours� Here the award is being presented to her by Professor Tommy Koh in 1992.


Distinguished Author Lecture The inaugural Distinguished Author Lecture (DAL) was delivered by Australian author Thomas Keneally of “Schindler’s List” fame in 1994. (Top right) Mr Gopinathan, Prof Edwin Thumboo and Mrs Hedwig Anuar with Thomas Keneally (Bottom right) Helen Garner, a wellknown Australian writer flanked by Mr Gopinathan and Mr Kirpal Singh. She delivered the second DAL lecture in 1996. (Inset) Ms Helen Garner


Reading Resource Centre, 1996

In June 1995, the NBDCS moved to new office premises at Blk 163 #03-3571, Bukit Merah Central, adjacent to Bukit Merah Public Library where the Book Council was located since 1983. NBDCS launched the Reading Resource Centre (RRC) in 1996 at its new premises. The RRC was a one-stop service and networking centre for Singapore’s writing community to gain access to NBDCS’ database of publishers and facilitated the matching of aspiring writers with suitable publishers. Though the facility closed in 2000 due to financial reasons, similar services were provided by the Singapore Writers Centre which was formally set up at the NBDCS office in Geylang East Public Library.

Today, the Writers Lounge at Goodman Arts Centre (bottom right) provides similar services.


Book Launches The Book Council supported local authors in their book launch endeavours. This service continuous to be provided to this day. (Right) Mr Rajaratnam at Mr Goh Sin Tub’s book launch in 1996.


PHASE I: 1968-1998 – CONSOLIDATION Phases I (1968 – 1988) was dominated by Mrs Anuar. Even after she retired from the National Library, she continued to serve in the Council until 1998. The key programme that captured the interest and the participation of the public was the Festival of Books and Book Fair which reached its peak at the tail end of this era. The 9-day festival became the centre of large variety of book related programmes. The cooperation between the Book Council and Singapore Book Publishers Association (SBPA) reached its climax during this period.


PHASE I: 1968-1988 – CONSOLIDATION This period also saw the introduction of programmes such as the National Reading Month, Distinguished Lecture Series, the Singapore Literature Prize and more importantly, the setting up of the Reading Trust Fund. Though some of the programmes organised during this period could not be continued, they became part of other literary and book-related groups and institutions. The key programme, the Festival of Books and Book Fair, could not be sustained due to competitive similar Fairs that had emerged in Singapore. The Distinguished Author Lecture series, the ambitious Reading Trust Fund and the Reading Resource Centre were discontinued due to financial constraints. Nevertheless this period established the importance of promotional programmes, a system of awards to encourage excellence in writing, and training as fundamental for the development and sustenance of reading and writing in Singapore. Though, throughout the three phases the nature of programmes and events changed, the objectives of each of them did not. They remained true to those established during the foundation years.


Summary of Programmes & Services Phase I: 1968–1988 Festivals Festival of Books & Book Fair Awards The Book Council Awards The Singapore Literature Prize Training CLAP – Centre of Literary Arts and Publishing Workshops, Courses, Seminars, Talks, Conferences Other programmes Reading and Book Promotions Programmes The National Reading Month Publications Singapore Book World NBDCS News

Ad Hoc Programmes Commissioned the National Reading Survey Macro database on the printing and publishing industry Acted as National Agency for the ASEAN children’s books and source materials Began a translation scheme Managed a Reading Trust Fund Sponsored the formation of the Society of Singapore Writers, the Association of Book Designers and Illustrators, and the Society of Reading and Literacy Other Services Upheld Copyright Legislation Set up a Writers Resource Centre at Bukit Merah


If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. – Haruki Murakami


Book Council Phases Phase II. 1988 – 2018 Renewal and Revitalisation The Li Kok and Claire Years During this phase Ms Li Kok and Ms Claire Chang further built on the foundations of the first era with new and innovative programmes and services. Mr R Ramachandran was elected Chairperson in 1998, Ms Lim Li Kok in 2004 and Ms Claire Chang in 2014. Key People: R Ramachandran, Kiang-Koh Lai Lin, Serene Wee, Johnson Paul, Leo Vincent, Chua Hong Koon, Kiang- Koh Lai Lin, Evelyn Sue Wong, Leo Vincent and Kenneth Quek. Main Focus: Reading, Writing, Publishing, Storytelling


PHASE II. 1988-2018

REVIVAL AND REVITALISATION

In 1988, the Book Council had to operate in a new environment. The NLB was restructured and the NAC was formed. Both the institutions took on the national role of promoting reading, writing and the Arts. Also by this time a number of professional organisations and non-profit companies had come to the scene. The Singapore Writers Festival adequately looked after the adult literary field. The Festival of Books and Book Fair was discontinued as the World Book Fair and the Popular Book Fair entrenched themselves as leading Book Fairs. The Asian International Book Fair & Library Expo which the Book Council initiated with the Reeds Exhibition Company closed after two editions. This clearly indicated that the Book Fairs in Singapore could not be run successfully both on professional and commercial bases.


PHASE II. 1988-2018 REVIVAL AND REVITALISATION The Council had to take on a new role and become a vibrant niche player to survive and be relevant. Against this background, the Council’s NBDCS 21 was drafted – its plan for the next decade.

The programmes particularly focused on different age groups – the children and young people. The Council hence concentrated on storytelling, writing for children and young people. It worked with suitable partners to reach out to as many target audience as possible Awards, training and promotional programmes which were doing well in the previous phase were further developed and expanded to include children.

A Training Academy was set up and a wider range of awards were developed.


Launch of the Asia International Book Fair, 1998


Asia International Book Fair and Library Expo 2000. This Fair was discontinued after two editions.


Dymocks Literature Prize

Mr Ramachandran, Chairperson of NBDCS, (1998-2004) launched the inaugural Dymocks Singapore Literature Prize (DSLP) in 2000. This award replaced the SLP for unpublished books presented from 1992 to 1998. The new DSLP was for published works only.


Dymocks Literature Prize The Dymocks Singapore Literature Prize in 2000, was won by author Rex Shelley, for his novel, A River of Roses.


Advisory Board Professor Tommy Koh Ambassador-at-Large

Prof Tommy Koh

Dr K K Phua

Professor S Gopinathan Dean, National Institute of Education Simon Tay Seong Chee Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore Professor Wang Gungwu Director, East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore Richard C. Helfer Past President & CEO, Raffles Holdings Ltd Koh Buck Song Head, Corporate Communications, Economic Development Board Richard Lim Editor, Life! & Sunplus, Singapore Press Holdings Ltd Dr. K. K. Phua Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd


The establishment of ad hoc Advisory Board led to the publication of NBDCS 21 and the provision of funding. This enabled the setting up of the Secretariat in 2002 and helped the recovery and revitalisation of the Council from financial constraints and assisted in professionalising the programmes. In 2003, the Book Council office and Secretariat moved to the Geylang East Library from the National Library at Stamford Road. The office remained in the Library until July 2017 when it moved once again to the Godman Arts Centre.


To manage all the diverse programmes effectively, a strong Secretariat and a permanent office space were established. The NBDCS Secretariat was set up in 2002 with the help of donors, particularly the Lee Foundation. (Top photo) Mr Ramachandran with Lee Seng Gee and his wife Dolly of Lee Foundation (Bottom photo) Ms Joyce Tan (in cheongsam) was appointed as the Executive Director in 2002


Book Council Staff in 2006: Mr Ramachandran was appointed Executive Director when Joyce Tan resigned. The new ED was assigned to put the NBDCS 21 PLANS into operation. (in photo, from left) Mr Rama, Christina Ng, Shahana Kismet, Gracina Chiang, Azlina, Regina Kuan and Chairperson, Ms Lim Li Kok


A new initiative that brought the Book Industry – the authors, publishers and agents – together took place in 2003. (in pictures): (left) Sharon Ismail at the rostrum; (right) Mr Johnson of Market Asia with Mrs Anuar and Ms Meira Chand

Book Industry Night Phase 2: 1991 - 2018


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Book Industry Night Ms Catherine Lim speaking at the function in 2003 (Inset) Images from the Book Industry Night


Book Industry Night


The Asian Congress of Storytellers was launched in 2002 with 300 participants of which 30% were from overseas.


Children’s Storytelling Carnival, Asian Storytellers Congress and the Storytellers Showcase became part of the Singapore International Storytellers Festival in 2006.


Storytellers: Rosemarie Somaiah, Sheila Wee and Kiran Shah were trained by NBDCS through workshops for the group with prominent foreign talents


Performers at the Storytellers Showcase at Esplanade in 2004


Other Programmes: First-Time Writers & Illustrators Publishing Initiative, 2005


Picture Book Forum The Picture Book Forum was held in 2008 at the Grand Plaza Park Hotel City Hall, featuring author Meredith Costain. This programme was supported by MDA. Costain is a versatile writer whose work ranges from picture books to popular fiction and nonfiction books for older readers.


Images from the early years of the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference which was part of the Asian Children’s Festival. This conference in 2010 became part of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content.

Asian Children’s Conference


Festivals & Awards The Council consolidated its programmes into three new Festivals and at the same time expanded its range of awards. The Asian Expressions, which focused on translations, was not continued since translation became the focus of the new CLG called - The Select Centre.


Singapore International Storytelling Festival All storytelling programmes became part of the Festival. A new component known as the Asian Digital Storytelling Congress was added to this event in 2008.


Singapore International Storytelling Festival

The Council pioneered storytelling, launching conferences, showcases and masterclasses through the Singapore International Storytelling Festival in 2006.


All In! Young Writers Festival The All In! Young Writers Festival was launched in 2008. The YWF began as a young writers seminar in 2008 and the focus was on university students. The festival has evolved to include writing beyond literary areas, and has diversified its content to include even younger writers. This Festival has great potential to grow into a significant meeting of content creators in the region.


All In! Young Writers Festival


Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2010 saw the birth of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) The Asian Children’s Festival and the Asian Writers & Illustrators Conference, both of which were started in 2000, became part of the expanded AFCC. AFCC brought together stakeholders of the children’s literature scene in Singapore and the region. Ms Claire Chiang became the founding Chairperson of AFCC.


Asian Festival of Children’s Content

(Top) AFCC launch at the Arts House. (Bottom) The inaugural AFCC Board of Advisors in 2010. The AFCC became an signature event of the Council and each year it grew from strength to strength.


The Chairperson of the NBDCS, Ms Lim Li Kok presenting a token of appreciation to the 7th President of Singapore, Mr S R Nathan, after he had conferred the NBDCS Lifetime Award to children’s pioneer writer Jessie Wee at AFCC 2013.


Singapore Literature Prize

The Senior Minister of State Mr Balaji Sadasivan was the GOH at the prize giving ceremony in 2004. He is accompanied (above) by Executive Council Member, Mrs Kiang Lai Lin and Miss Joyce Tan, the Executive Director of the Council. (Right) The Minister of State for Information, Communication and the Arts Mr Balaji Sadasivan giving away prizes to the winning writers in Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil.

In 2004, Singapore Literature Prize expanded to the 4 official languages, Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil.


Singapore Literature Prize


Book Awards Other Awards organised by Council The NAC’s Golden Point Award The Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award (HABA) was first set up in 2011. First HABA winner in 2011:

HABA winner in 2018:


New Awards for Children’s Writing New awards Asia-wide were developed in 2011 for writers and illustrators of children’s books and these included (clockwise from bottom left) the Scholastic Picture Book Awards and the the Scholastic Asian Book Awards(SABA) The 2018 SABA winner was from the Philippines.


Book Council also managed the SEA Write Award for Singapore.

Book Awards

(From top left) 2013: Yeng Pway Ngon 2014: Haresh Sharma

(From left) 2015: JM Sali 2016: Ovidia Yu


Asian Expressions In 2012, the Council organised Asian Expressions. This programme focused on written works in Asian languages, particularly Chinese, Malay and Tamil. It highlighted the need for extensive translations.


The NBDCS project-managed the programme: Screen to Print The project saw the translation of award-winning visual narratives into books.


Training Programmes All the training programmes were centralised and the Centre for Literary Arts and Publishing (CLAP) was set up in 2002 to focus on training. CLAP was later renamed as the Academy of Literary Arts and Publishing (ALAP) in 2011.


Training Programmes

The Academy of Literary Arts and Publishing paved the way for professional training in Singapore’s Literary and Arts scene, through innovative workshops and seminars in a more formal setting.


A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading. – William Styron


Ms Claire Chiang was elected Chairperson of NBDCS in July 2014.


Book Council Staff from 2014 to 2018 during Ms Claire Chiang’s Chairpersonship


Bain Report: Book Council Strategic Review

One of the first things Ms Claire Chiang did as Chairperson was to commission the Bain Report: NBDCS Strategic Review in 2015.


Images from Bain’s report – NBDCS Strategic Review 2015

Bain Report: Book Council Strategic Review


One Story, Multiple Platforms The Chairperson believed that in the new digital environment, stories go beyond paper and cuts across multiple platforms. This gave rise to a myriad of opportunities and possibilities for authors, publishers and other media professionals. All the Council’s programmes from now on were organised based on this principle.


Asian Festival of Children’s Content It was during this phase that AFCC saw its growth into a five-day Festival thus realising its full potential and maturity. The following strands, which enhanced the event, were established: •  Pre/Primary School Congress •  Parents forum •  Asian Writers and Illustrators Conference •  Cross Platform Summit •  Children’s/ Writers/Illustrators Retreat •  Country Focus •  AFCC Publications •  Book Fair •  Masterclasses •  Book Illustrators Gallery (BIG) •  Festival Bookshop


Asian Festival of Children’s Content

In 2012, the AFCC expanded and introduced a Country of Focus, featuring speakers from these countries.


AFCC Country of Focus

(Top, left to right) 2013: Malaysia Night (The Pod, NLB) 2014: India Night (Joyden Hall, Bugis+) 2015: China Night (Stephen Riady Auditorium, SMU)

(Bottom, left to right) 2016: Japan Night (Resorts World Sentosa) 2017: Indonesia Night (The Plaza, NLB)


Asian Festival of Children’s Content Some AFCC participants waving at Australian author Shaun Tan as he appeared on Skype to answer numerous questions from the AFCC 2015 delegates.


International Book Fairs & Midstream Meetings Partnerships and New Opportunities Both Executive Council members and AFCC Board of Advisers attended international book fairs and held Midstream Meetings in the respective Countries of Focus. (From top to bottom) 1. 2015 Shanghai Book Fair and Midstream Meeting; 2.Visit to Chihiro Art Museum in Azumino and Midstream Meeting with Japanese publishers in 2016 3. Jakarta Midstream Meeting 2017


AFCC Writers’ & Illustrators’ Retreat The Writers’ & Illustrators’ Retreat was recently introduced as part of AFCC. The retreat has been held biennially since 2015.


AFCC Book Illustrators’ Gallery


AFCC Publications As part of the AFCC Country of Focus, several picture books were published, highlighting the collaboration between Singaporean authors and illustrators and their counterparts in the respective countries concerned.

Clockwise from top: 2015, China: Lion Hearts, Painted Thoughts 2016, Japan: Benjie, Yumi Origami & Monster Day at Tabletop Hill 2017, Indonesia: Sayur, Sayur! & CindeRilla


AFCC Publications AFCC compiled and published each year collections of presentations by renowned speakers from Singapore and the region.


AFCC Board of Advisors AFCC Board of Advisors (BOA) was strengthened. New member countries were included and representatives from Thailand, Japan and India were invited to be part of BOA. (Below) AFCC 2016 Board of Advisors


Singapore Literature Prize In 2014, the Singapore Literature Prize was significantly expanded from 4 to 12 awards. The fiction and poetry categories were separated, and a new creative non-fiction category was created across all four languages. Along with it, a new logo for SLP was also developed.


Singapore Literature Prize


Asia-Pacific Writers & Translators’ Int’l Conference The Book Council, Yale-NUS and the Asia Pacific Writers & Translators Association organised the 7th annual conference in Singapore, from 17-20 July 2014, at The Arts House. (Top) NBDCS-designed booklet cover for APWT 2014. (Bottom) Philippine delegates at APWT 2014.


Images from APWT 2014

Asia-Pacific Writers & Translators’ Int’l Conference


New Delhi World Book Fair In February 2015, Singapore, through the Book Council, participated in the New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF) as a Guest Country of Honour. A total of 50 authors, illustrators publishers, and agents represented Singapore during the entire 14-day run of the NDWBF. Authors and illustrators were invited for panel discussions, school talks and bookstore events as well.


New Delhi World Book Fair The participation was supported by NAC, the Singapore Embassy in New Delhi and the National Book Trust-India.


New Delhi World Book Fair

Singapore was covered extensively by the Festival’s daily newsletter. Authors were also interviewed for local radio and television stations.


Books are a uniquely portable magic. – Stephen King


Literary Arts Initiatives in Singapore More support for local initiatives in literary arts. Support and assistance was given to initiatives like the Tamil Heritage Collection inauguration in 2015 (top), and the Marshall Cavendish Budding Writers Programme in 2016 (bottom).


Fostering More Partnerships Council continues its partnership with authors, publishers, booksellers and distributors.


Fostering More Partnerships The Book Council continued to support Singaporean initiatives in storytelling such as the Storyfest, since the Council discontinued organising the SISF in 2014. At the same time, storytelling has caught on in Singapore. These particular sessions by local storytellers Roger Jenkins and Rosemarie Somaiah were organised by the Singapore Writers Festival as part of its outreach initiative.


Book Council Publications Management of publishing projects These involved publishing picture books in collaboration with the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism (LKYFB), Building & Construction Authority, Housing & Development Board, and Public Utility Board. (Clockwise, top to bottom) The Naughty Mynah by Evelyn Sue Wong and Where Is My Home? by Nur-El-Hudaa Jaffar, both publications were supported by LKYFB. The eWord news and the Writers Resource Kit, which was published by the Council.


Book Council Publications

NBDCS managed the publishing and distribution of bilingual picture books as well as its translation, in collaboration with Singaporean publishers.


Book Council Publications Collaborative works were also published through partnerships with writers’ organisations and statutory boards. (From left) Near & Dear, in partnership with WA Writers Association; Maddie Makes Friends, commissioned by Housing & Development Board; A Water Wally Adventure: The Surprise Visitor, commissioned by Public Utility Board


Buy SingLit Since 2016, Council has been the working secretariat for NAC’s industry-led initiative, Buy SingLit, which drew close to 100 commissioned and partnered programmes across Singapore.


The Champion of Books (2017) Mr Stephen Riady became the first Champion of Books and has donated S$500,000 to the Council.


New Programming Book Council introduced new programmes during this period adding to its slew of projects and literary activities. These include Twilight Tales, its roster of language programmes in CMT, Book Street, Book Drive and commissioned programming for NAC’s Buy SingLit project. (Right) Images from Twilight Tales, a literary arts programme initiated by the NBDCS. The programme has featured the likes of author Wendy Tan, poet Cyril Wong, and prolific writers Josephine Chia and Suchen Christine Lim.


New Programming

Language programmes are conducted in collaboration with the National Library.


In July 2017, NBDCS moved to new premises at the Goodman Arts Centre furnished with a dedicated office, classroom (Singapore Book Academy) and a Writers’ Lounge.

2017: New Premises at Goodman Arts Centre


Singapore Book Academy In June 2018, ALAP became the Singapore Book Council Academy (SBA). A larger variety of courses were offered frequently and marketed effectively to enable self-sufficiency and sustenance over the long term.


New Office-Warming Party 10 October 2017


Book Street Book Street held at SMU on Sept 2017 gathered booksellers, authors and other bookrelated entrepreneurs at selected venues to promote reading and writing in a fun manner.


Book Drive Book Council’s first Book Drive in Nov 2017 gathered 12,000 books that benefited children in Singapore and Philippine schools. 44 volunteers helped pack the books for distribution.


Phase 11.The Li Kok and Claire Years: 1988 to 2018 Revival and Revitalisation

The last 20 years saw not only the revival of the Book Council to its former status but also its expansion to new areas. The Council grew in stature and its Secretariat was expanded and entrenched. From a S$10,000 annual budget expanded to almost S$2 million each year. It also marked the long term financial sustenance of the Council and a significant change in its structure and programming. New programmes were introduced and some of the older programmes revived and executed in different format. The Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) and the All In! Young Writers Festival became the Council’s signature programmes. Likewise, the Singapore Literature Prize (SLP) was expanded and the slew of children’s awards was established. The Council also moved to its new premises at Goodman Arts Centre which provided not only sufficient space for its office, but also for a fully-furnished training centre and additional space for the Writers Lounge.


Summary of Programmes & Services Phase II 1988– July 2018 Festivals Asian Festival of Children’s Content All In! Young Writers Festival Singapore International Storytelling Festival Awards Singapore Literature Prize Scholastic Asian Book Award Scholastic Picture Book Award Hedwig Anuar Book Award SEA Write Award Asian Children’s Book Award Training SBC Academy

Services Publications Management Advisory Services - Singapore Writers Centre Ad Hoc Programmes Library Expo Asian Expressions Book Launches Twilight Tales Book Street & Book Drive Fun With Languages Buy Sing Lit


The books that help you the most are those which make you think the most. – Pablo Neruda


Phase III. The Origins The Origins of the Singapore Book Council – July 2017 The discussion to set up the Singapore Book Council took place at the NBDCS AGM in July 2017. The AGM in principle agreed to the suggestion to register the SBC as a Company of Limited Guarantee.


Accordingly, Ms Claire Chiang, Mr Chua Hong Koon and Mr Ramachandran registered the Singapore Book Council (SBC) as a Company of Limited Guarantee (CLG), a non-profit company in February 2018.


Phase III. The Birth The Birth of the Singapore Book Council - July 2018 The members of the NBDCS met in 16 July 2018 for the annual general meeting (AGM). The AGM voted to dissolve the NBDCS and replace it with the newly registered Singapore Book Council (SBC), a Company of Limited Guarantee. The SBC would take over the assets of the NBDCS and perform its functions. Ms Claire Chiang, Chairperson of NBDCS was appointed as the founding Chairperson of SBC.


Phase III. The New Chapter, July 2018 Under Claire’s leadership, the SBC would be setting the tone, vision and the objectives of the Council. The flowering of the literary scene in Singapore for the next decade would then begin. People: R Ramachandran

Key Personnel, Chua Hong Koon, Ramachandran, Evelyn Wong, William Phuan,


Phase III. The New Chapter A new chapter thus began on 16 July 2018 when the NBDCS was dissolved and the Singapore Book Council was formed to take its place. It ended the old era and heralded the beginning of the restructured Singapore Book Council with its new, youthful, IT and marketing savvy management team. In the following year, the new management would be planning an innovative and exciting programme to supplement the literary arts core and reach out to an increasing wider and vibrant audience.


Book Council Current Staff

In the meantime the new management will continue to execute the programmes for Singapore Book Academy, Singapore Literature Prize (SLP,) Sing Lit, the Young Writers Festival and the AFCC. However, the details, the scale and the style of the core programmes would be reviewed and executed differently with a fresh approach in the forthcoming sessions.


SINGAPORE LITERATURE PRIZE AWARD CEREMONY | 6 August 2018


Singapore Literature Prize Commemorative Book Launch | 9 November 2018


Singapore Literature Prize Commemorative Book Launch 9 November 2018


Asian Festival of Children’s Content

2018


SING LIT 2018 Chairperson Ms Claire Chiang addressing the AFCC audience and Book Council guests who had come to celebrate the 50 years of NBDCS. The Chairperson is in wheelchair as she had unfortunately broken her ankle while in China.


Images from the Council’s 50th anniversary celebration


Buy SingLit 2018


SingLit 50 Panel @ SWF

Charting Singapore’s Literary History through the Book Council’s Journal 10 November 2018


on 19 December 2018 at Goodman Arts Centre, Block E, #03-32 from 6.00pm


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Koh Hock Seng * Joyce Tan * Sheila Wee * Nadia Yusof – NLB Shirin Aroozoo * Chua Bee Hong * Regina Kuan * V. Kumari


Beyond the Pages

In commemoration of the Council’s 50th Anniversary

THE BOOK COUNCIL STORY

1968-2018: Milestones & Memories

Compiled by Michelle Heng (NLB) Judi Ho (NBDCS) Project Coordinator Mrs Kiang-Koh Lai Lin, Executive Council Member Advisor Mr R Ramachandran, Director (SBC Board)

Profile for Singapore Book Council

The First 50 YEARS of the NBDCS  

The National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) was registered on 19 December 1968 as an Association. Its history for the first 5...

The First 50 YEARS of the NBDCS  

The National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) was registered on 19 December 1968 as an Association. Its history for the first 5...

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