By Hannah Johnson
The Chinese publishing industry is front and center this week as China makes its Guest of Honor appearance at BookExpo America. Over the last 20 years, publishing in China has undergone big changes and offers great opportunities for international publishers. For those who are unfamiliar with the dynamics in Chinese publishing, it can be difficult to start doing business there.
For those who want to better understand Chinese publishing, the Book Information Center Beijing has updated its annual report on the Chinese book market for 2015. This report provides a thorough understanding of the major publishers, players, and trends in Chinese publishing, as well as challenges and opportunities for international publishers looking to do business in China.
Who are the biggest booksellers and distributors? What digital trends are changing China’s publishing industry? Where are the opportunities for foreign investment?
Here are a few highlights from the report:
International cooperation: “The publishing industry is still not as open to foreign investment as distribution and print services are, but even here there are now several opportunities for international collaboration, including one-time cooperation (e.g. co-productions and co-editions of individual titles, especially in the field of scientific publications), long-term cooperation (especially with periodicals), or joint ventures, in which the Chinese hold the majority share.”
Children’s books: “The People’s Republic of China currently has 30 publishing houses specialised in children’s and YA books. Many other publishers also have children’s and YA books in their programme. Over the past few years, sales in the children’s book market have grown…”
Bookselling: “There are three main distribution channels: the state-run Xinhua Bookstores, private bookstores and online bookstores.”
Reading: “in 2014 Chinese readers consumed a total of 1.4 billion digital titles, with young readers accounting for more than half of this figure…”
Online entertainment: Online platforms are becoming more powerful in the area of IP exploitation, and internet giants like Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent are fundamentally changing the way publishers acquire, create, and sell online content.