The Middle Market

The Chinese book market - practical know-how for publishing companies

How should I handle Chinese business partners? And what do I need to take into consideration if I want to achieve a successful breakthrough on the Chinese book market? A professional seminar with experts provided answers to these questions.

With a population of around 1.3 billion, the People’s Republic of China is the third-largest state in the world. Literacy in the so called Middle Kingdom is at 93 per cent. Around 80,000 bookshops were registered in China in 2005 and a good 220,000 titles were published, of which 120,000 were new publications.

No question about it - the Chinese book market offers great opportunities for international publishers. It does also involve risks, however, because certain peculiarities mean that it cannot be compared to other international book markets. Help and a great deal of practical information for publishers wanting to get onto this market were on offer at the professional seminar held recently in Frankfurt by the Frankfurt Book Fair, "The Chinese book market - practical tips for publishing companies".

There was considerable interest. Around 40 people came to find out about the potentials, peculiarities, problems and challenges of the Chinese book market. For example, there are around 570 publishing companies in China that are all state-owned enterprises and subject to relatively strict state controls. Since China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001, this control has relaxed somewhat.

New trends and important details for rights and licence trade

The seminar began with Jörg Rudolph from the East Asia Institute at Ludwigshafen Applied Science University giving a general overview of the Chinese economy, its culture and ways of working. "In China, everyone does what he wants, nobody what he should and everybody follows along", was how the sinologist summed up his personal experiences. Information on new trends on the Chinese book market and important details for trading in rights and licences were provided by Jing Bartz from the Beijing Book Information Centre and Cai Hungjun, director of the Hercules Agency.

Bertram Schmidt-Friedrich from Hermann-Schmidt-Verlag reported on his experiences with printing in China, and Ian Taylor, director of Ian Taylor Associations, introduced new sales options for publishing companies in China. Finally, Markus Wegner from the Frankfurt Book Fair talked about Germany’s presentation as guest of honour at the Beijing Book Fair (30 August to 3 September 2007).
Germany guest of honour at the 14th Beijing International Book Fair

There were many questions from the floor. What sort of manners are appropriate in which situations? How do you deal with it when business partners take a long time to respond and how should you react if licence agreements are broken? What’s to be done if excess printings appear? It was apparent here that the exchange of experiences among attendees was useful too, not just the information coming from the speakers. Overall, those taking part judged the seminar to have been very informative and helpful, it was hoped there would be more such events focusing on other book markets.
taken from the Frankfurter Buchmesse's April Newsletter


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