The Book Publishing Industry in the Chinese Mainland

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2 The Book Publishing Industry in the Chinese Mainland

A. Publishing Houses and Sectors: A Broad Overview

B. Trade Books

C. Professional Books

D. Educational Publishing

A. Publishing Houses and Sectors: A Broad Overview

1. Book Publishers

There are 568 publishing houses (including 36 imprints) in the Chinese mainland. Of these, 219 are national publishers mostly concentrated in Beijing, while the remaining 349 are spread evenly throughout the other provinces. Beijing, considered the center of publishing with 219 publishing companies, accounts for about 40% of the country’s total number of publishing houses while Shanghai takes a distant second place with only 40 publishing houses. After these two cities, each of the other provinces has less than 20 publishing houses. In general, every government agency at the ministry level has one affiliated publishing unit which is called a national publisher. There are a few exceptions to this. For example, major government organizations such as the Ministry of Education and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences have several publishing units under their respective umbrellas.

In terms of revenue, the majority of Chinese publishing houses operate on a medium scale. Among the 560 publishing houses, 70 achieve annual sales of RMB100 million, another 70 publishers have sales in the range of RMB50–100 million, 280 publishers have sales in the range of RMB10–50 million, and the remaining 140 publishers have annual sales of less than RMB10 million. The largest publishing house employs around 1,000 workers, while a small press might have about 20 employees (See Figure 2.1.)

Chinese book publishing underwent the fastest growth it has ever experienced over the last five to 10 years. During that time, a group of prominent publishers emerged from the various publishing sectors.

About 20 publishing groups have been formed, of which 13 are pilot groups approved by the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). These pilot groups are: the Shanghai Century Publishing Group, Guangdong Publishing Group, Liaoning Publishing Group, Beijing Publishing Group, China Sciences Publishing Group, Shandong General Publishing House, China Publishing Group, Jiangsu Publishing Group, Zhejiang Publishing Group, Sichuan Publishing Group, Henan Publishing Group, Hebei Publishing Group, and Jilin Publishing Group.

The China Publishing Group, formed in March 2002, is the largest publishing group affiliated with the Department of Publicity of the Central Committee of CPC (See Figure 2.2 on page 36.) The group consists of a number of the most prominent publishers and distribution companies in the country. Its members include The Commercial Press, Zhonghua Book Company, SDX Joint Publishing Co., Ltd. People’s Literature Publishing Group, People’s Publishing Group, Encyclopedia of China Publishing House, People’s Fine Arts Publishing House (all seven were formerly affiliated with the GAPP), Zhong Xin Lian CD Company, Xinhua Bookstore General Group, and China National Publications Import & Export (Group) Corporation. The group has assets valued at RMB5 billion (approximately US$603 million), annual sales of RMB2.5 billion, and 6,000 employees. It publishes a total of 6,000 titles of printed books, electronic publications, and audio and visual books annually, and owns 46 periodicals and 3 newspapers. Its annual copyright trading volume is 600 titles. The group also imports and exports 6,000 audio and video publications and hundreds of thousands of books and periodicals.

Top performers among the 20 publishing groups are the Liaoning Publishing Group and the Shanghai Century Publishing Group. The Liaoning Group consists of 12 businesses including book publishers, audio and video presses, and electronic publishing houses and is the largest publishing corporation in Northeast China. The Shanghai Group, the result of a merger of 12 publishers, is the largest publishing company in East China. In addition to the above-mentioned pilot groups, there are also self-formed publishing groups such as the Hunan Publishing Group, China Children Press & Publication Group, and China International Publishing Group. More publishing groups are now being formed. (See Figure 2.3.)

Beyond the publishing groups mentioned above, some publishers with rich assets and competitive advantages also formed publishing groups by spinning off a number of subsidiary companies. Examples of this type of publishing group include People’s Posts and Telecommunications Publishing House, Shanghai Literature & Art Publishing House, Publishing House of Electronics Industry, China Light Industry Press, China Machine Press, and Hebei Education Press.

The People’s Posts and Telecommunications Publishing House releases 1,500 book titles annually and owns a dozen magazines with annual sales of 13 million copies. It also owns a book distribution center, an electronic network, the Oriental Saiweisi Property Management Corporation Limited, the Hongmai Information Consulting Firm, the Guomei Advertising Agency, and the commercial building at Beijing’s Wangfujing Oriental Plaza. Its annual gross sales of all publications have exceeded RMB350 million and its total assets are close to RMB500 million.

The Shanghai Literature & Art Publishing House owns another three houses, eleven magazines, and one newspaper. Its annual output is 600 titles. Its monthly magazine, Stories, ranks first in national circulation.

Before 1949, many large Chinese publishers set up branches in markets outside of where their headquarters were located, and in those times, The Commercial Press had a branch in each province of China. China implemented a planned economy for the first 30 years after the country’s new government was formed in 1949 and publishers mainly operated from their home bases with editing, designing, printing, and distribution all done locally. Publishers rarely developed business outside their local area, let alone set up branches elsewhere. Geographically, China is a vast country with a widespread population and so, publishers were also distributed evenly in numbers in each province with the exception of Beijing. However, creative minds and talents became heavily concentrated in the bigger cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and other economically developed regions along the East Coast. Correspondingly, a large part of the book market became concentrated in these areas. Conducting business in a market environment outside a publishing company’s home base has become necessary for some publishers in order to meet market demands, and is an important step towards a market economy for the book publishing industry.

At present, more than a dozen publishers have set up branches outside of where their headquarters are located. They are the Hainan Publishing House, Hebei Education Press, Jieli Publishing House, Yangtze River Literature and Art Publishing House, Guangxi Normal University Press, Guangxi People’s Publishing House, Lijiang Publishing House, Shaanxi Normal University Press, Sichuan Children’s Publishing House, Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House, The Commercial Press, Higher Education Press, and Shandong People’s Publishing House. The Guangdong, Shanghai Century, and Jiangxi Publishing Groups have also opened up branches in Beijing. Six children’s books publishers including Tomorrow Publishing House, Zhejiang Juvenile and Children’s Books Publishing House formed a strategic alliance named East China Children’s Publishing Group and have set up a joint-stock publishing company in Beijing. Publishing companies with branches in locations and markets beyond where they are headquartered are likely to be more competitive and efficient publishers. Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen are the primary choice for opening up branches as these big cities hold prominent positions in culture, finance, and economic strength. That said, most of the publishers chose to open branches in Beijing first.

Many branch companies are independent profit centers. Jieli Publishing House not only moved their editorial department to Beijing, but also relocated the rest of their publishing businesses to the capital except its publishing operations for textbooks and supplement material. Now Jieli’s president is based in the Guangxi headquarters while its editor-in-chief works in Beijing. Jieli now publishes 100 titles per year. The Shanghai Century Publishing Group also set up a branch called the Horizon Media Co., Ltd. in Beijing and this branch has published up to 100 titles including The Marketing Revolution of Coca-Cola and Experiencing Microsoft.

As publishing has become more market-oriented, a group of publishing gurus with editorial acumen and market savvy took center stage in China. They include Li Pengyi, President of the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press; Nie Zhenning, President of the People’s Literature Publishing House; Wang Yamin, President of Hebei Education Press; Li Yuanjun, President, and Bai Bing, Editor-in-Chief, of Jieli Publishing House; Zhang Shengyou, President of the Writers Publishing House; Zhou Baiyi, President of the Yangtze River Literature and Art Publishing House; Zhao Jiqing, President of the China Light Industry Press; Zhang Yanyang, President of Jindun (Golden Shield) Publishing House; Chen Xin, CEO of Shanghai Century Publishing Group; Yang Deyan, President of The Commercial Press; Ren Huiying, CEO, and Yu Xiaoqun, Vice-President of Liaoning Publishing Group. The most prominent publisher in modern Chinese history is Zhang Yuanji, who led The Commercial Press from the 1930s to 1950s.

There is a substantial imbalance in publishing and distribution capacity among the 34 provinces and regions of China. The top 10 most developed regions for publishing are Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Shandong, Liaoning, Hubei, Zhejiang, Hunan, and Sichuan. In 2002, the top 10 regions with annual book sales surpassing the RMB1.56 billion mark were Beijing, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Shandong, Sichuan, Henan, Zhejiang, Hunan, Hebei, and Shanghai. In general, the regions along the East Coast are well developed in the book trade while the inland and Western regions lag behind.

Beijing remains the center of book publishing, far exceeding the provinces in terms of scope, human resources, or market size. Forty percent of publishing houses are located in Beijing. Together, they publish 73,840 titles annually, accounting for 40% of the country’s total title output. Annual book sales in Beijing are RMB5.35 billion (about US$64.58 million), representing 12.3% of total book sales. Excluding the national publishers with headquarters in the capital, Beijing has 17 local publishing houses, releasing 3,009 titles per year, which accounts for 1.8% of the country’s total output, with revenues of RMB1.26 billion (about US$151.81 million), representing 2.9% of annual book sales. Of the 17 local Beijing publishers, eight belong to the Beijing Publishing Group, which together publish 1,500 titles per year and also owns four magazines. Its annual sales were RMB200 million (about US$24.1 million) in 2002.

Shanghai is the second most developed region in publishing after Beijing. There are about 40 publishers in Shanghai, or 7% of the country’s total. Shanghai publishers released a combined 14,500 titles a year, accounting for 8.5% of China’s annual title output. Shanghai publishers achieved annual sales revenue of RMB1.56 billion (about US$187.95 million), accounting for 4% of the industry total. Shanghai is also the home of the Century Publishing Group and the Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House, both of which have made great impact in the development of the industry. Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces are also two competitive regions after Shanghai.

2. Book Categories

Title output has increased impressively in the Chinese mainland in recent years. In 2002, there were 170,000 titles in print. Of these, 100,700 were new titles while the rest of the 70,300 titles were revisions or reprints. 2002 saw a 10% increase in the number of titles over 2001. (See Figure 2.5.)

Books published in the Chinese mainland include printed books, textbooks, and picture books. The title output and unit sales of picture books are counted towards the industry total. In 2002, 142,952 non-textbook titles were published, accounting for 84% of book output, of which 91,350 were first editions. In addition, 25,817 textbooks were published accounting for 15% of total, of which 8,163 were new titles. For picture books, 2,193

titles, of which, 1,180 were new titles, were published, accounting for 13% of the industry total.

In the Chinese mainland, books are classified into 22 categories as follows:

  • Art
  • Agricultural Science
  • Astronomy and Earth Science
  • Aviation and Space Sciences
  • Biology
  • Culture, Science, Education, and Sports
  • Economics
  • Engineering
  • Environment
  • General Natural Sciences
  • History and Geography
  • Languages
  • Literature
  • Marxism, Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, and Deng Xiaoping’s Theories
  • Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry
  • Medical Science
  • Military Affairs
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science and Law
  • Social Sciences
  • Transportation
  • General

If the 22 categories were roughly summed up into two categories of social sciences and natural sciences, the ratio of social science books to natural science books would be 7:3. Though the government adopts these 22 categories, Chinese publishers tend to divide books into eight or nine categories: social sciences, science and technology, literature and art, children’s books, Chinese classics, education, academic, and reference and encyclopedia. There are also publishers who follow Western practices and group books into three general categories: trade, professional, and educational. At present, it is not common in China to classify books by mass-market paperbacks and book club books. In this respect the publishing industry differs from that in the West.

B. Trade Books

Trade books refer to books that are sold mainly in bookstores. They include the following: literature, art, lifestyle, children, popular science, and humanities.

1. Literature and Art

In the Chinese mainland, art books include books on fine arts, photography, calligraphy, and drama. In 2002, about 21,000 literature and art titles were published, representing 12% of the country’s annual title output. For literature, about 11,200 titles were published, of which 8,690 were new titles. Fiction titles represented 6.5% of the total annual title output. For art, about 10,100 titles were published, of which 6,940 were new titles. Illustrated titles accounted for 6% of China’s annual title output. The total sales of literature and art books is RMB240 million per year, representing only 5% of total sales.

Fiction is very popular and there are many genres of fiction available. However, the market for literature and art books is gradually shrinking due to the increasing diversity of entertainment consumption. Less than 10% of fiction titles account for 60% of the total sales. The fiction bestsellers are priced at an average of RMB18–20 (approximately US$2.30). A novel with sales of 50,000 copies is regarded as a bestseller while a title with sales 100,000 is considered a national bestseller. In recent years, foreign fiction titles that sold over 100,000 copies include: The Bridges of Madison County, The Horse Whisperer, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Lord of the Rings, Fragrant Chrysanthemum, and Norwegian Wood.

There are 50 publishers specializing in literature and art. The most well-known are the People’s Literature Publishing House, Writers Publishing House, Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House, Shanghai Translation Publishing House, Yilin Press, Lijiang Press, China Youth Press, Huacheng Press, Yangtze River Literature and Art Publishing House, and Hebei Educational Press.

The People’s Literature Publishing House is the most prestigious literary publisher in China. It has the largest back catalog and produces 500 titles each year. The People’s Literature Publishing House has compiled and published series of both the complete and selected works of the finest Chinese and foreign literary writers in multiple volumes. For foreign literature, it has translated and published The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, The Complete Works of Honore De Balzac, The Complete Works of Henrik Johan Ibsen, and The Complete Works of Miguel de Cervantes. It is also the authorized Chinese publisher of the Harry Potter series. It publishes a number of influential literary periodicals including Modern Times and Facts on File forContemporary Literature. The Writers’ Publishing House, affiliated with the Chinese Writers’ Association, is another literary powerhouse with an impressive business operation. Its Notes from Mountains, The Horse Whisperer (translation) and Sophie’s World all took the publishing market and literary world by storm.

Shanghai Translation Publishing House, Yilin Press, and Lijiang Press are publishers specializing in foreign literature. In recent years, Shanghai Translation and Yilin both have had impressive results by introducing contemporary foreign literature. Shanghai Yiwen has acquired rights to and published the works of William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, W. Somerset Maugham, Erich Maria Remarque, Heinrich Boll, William Golding, Günter Grass, Haruki Murakami, Milan Kundera, and Imre Kertész. Yilin Press has acquired rights to and published the works of Joseph Heller, J. D. Salinger, Bernhard Schlink, Junichi Watanabe, and Mizuno Toshikata. Hubei Education Press has caught people’s attention by producing several dozen multi-volume complete and selected works of foreign literary masters with high editorial and production standards.

More than 10,000 illustrated titles are issued in the Chinese mainland each year, of which 6,000 to 7,000 are new titles. The annual sales for art books is in the range of RMB110–120 million a year. Areas with largest selection are illustrated books, techniques of fine arts, art collections, photography albums, and applied arts. Chinese paintings, oil paintings, calligraphy, and photography are primary sellers for the illustrated book market. Large format art and photography collections have also become major sellers in recent years.

The art books that set the highest standards are the 60-volume The Complete Collection of Chinese Fine Arts, The Selected Collection of Chinese Fine Arts, and The Complete Collection of Chinese Folk Arts jointly published by the People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, Cultural Relics Press, China Architecture & Building Press, Shanghai People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, and Shanghai Fine Arts Publishers.

Other defining art titles with high artistic and production standards include The Art of Dunhuang Caves and Chinese BrickInscriptions by the Jiangsu People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, The Complete Collection of Chinese Jadeware and The Art of Chinese Tangshan Leather-Silhouette Shows by Hebei Fine Arts Publishing House, Contemporary Chinese Wooden Printing Masterpieces and The Complete Collection of Qi Baishi by Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House, The Art of Chinese Opera Facial Make-up and The Art of Chinese Witch Masks by Jiangxi Fine Arts Publishing House, The Chinese Cartoon Series and The Chinese Ancient Villages Series, The Complete Collection of Famous Chinese Painters Series by Hebei Education Press, The Art of Lacquerware of Chu, Qin and Han Dynasties, Hubei Volume by Hubei Fine Arts Publishing House, The Pictorial History of One Century of Chinese Oil Paintings (1840–1949) by Guangxi Fine Arts Publishing House, The Best Epigraphs of all Dynasties: Beijing University Library Permanent Collection by Cultural Relics Press, The Complete Longmen Stone Cave Images and Inscriptions: Beijing Public Library Permanent Collection by Guangxi Normal University Press, Eternal Three Gorges by the People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, and Selected Paintings of Nima Zheren, the Panchen Lama’s Private Painter by China Intercontinental Press.

Picture books are gaining market share as Chinese consumers have more disposable income, while the working pace is increasing and reading takes on more diversified forms. The Chinese book market has entered the era of “picture reading”. More and more picture books of all kinds and subjects have entered the market. Various nostalgic picture albums of the past and photography collections portraying a new, modern age are becoming increasingly popular.

In addition to general art books, comic books and graphic novels have become a huge market. In the past decade, comic books and graphic novels from Taiwan, the United States, Europe, and Japan have dominated the market while locally produced comic books and graphic novels only account for 5% of sales. The popular American comic books are Garfield, Snoopy, Superman, and Batman. The popular European comics are Father and Son, The Adventures of Tintin, and The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. The Japanese manga comics RoboCat, Crayon Shin Chan, Ninja Turtles, Slam Dunk, and Fighter Ken Street have captured the largest number of readers.

Previously, the majority of readers for comics were young people. In recent years, however, as adult comic books and graphic novels became available in a greater variety, the number of adult comic book readers has increased exponentially. The best-selling Taiwanese graphic novels are mostly for adult readers. The most popular cartoonists are Cai Zhizhong, Zhu Deyong, and Ji Mi. Cartoons of Chinese Classics by Cai Zhizhong which depict Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi, and Confucius portraying the Chinese cultural tradition in a humorous and refreshing way have set a single artist sales record of 20 million copies. Cai’s cartoons are also licensed to many other countries and he has become the highest paid Chinese cartoonist in the world. The American, European, and Japanese comics attract mostly younger readers. Disney’s Mickey Mouse has done very well in China. The biweekly Mickey Mouse magazine, a joint venture of the People’s Posts and Telecommunications Publishing House and the Egmont Group, has monthly sales of 700,000 copies.

The most famous comic publishers in the Chinese mainland are the China Picture-Story Book Publishing House, Shanghai People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, and Hebei Fine Arts Publishing House. To develop the comic book and graphic novel market and support Chinese authors and cartoonists, Hebei Fine Arts Publishing House invested several million RMB to develop the Chinese mainland’s first cartoon and comic book production facilities supplying creative, technical and sales services. Hebei Fine Arts has since become the publishing powerhouse for the Chinese mainland’s comic books and graphic novels. In addition, the private company Sunchime is another influential and high-volume comic book producer.

There are about 30 publishers specializing in arts and photography publishing. Among the most prominent of these are the People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, Jiangsu Fine Arts Publishing House, Zhejiang Photography Press, China Photography Press, Liaoning Fine Arts & Photography Press, and Hebei Education Press.

The China Fine Arts Publishing Group is the largest publishing group specializing in art book publishing. It consists of the People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, China Picture-Story Book Publishing House, Rong Bao Zhai, and the Zhaohua Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House. It is affiliated with the China Publishing Group. The China Fine Arts Publishing Group primarily publishes fine art books and children’s books, and engages in art-related business ventures. It has fixed assets of RMB70 million and it publishes 600 titles in the form of books, periodicals and electronic publications. Its annual gross sales based on cover prices is RMB110 million, with net revenues of RMB70 million and net profits of RMB9 million. People’s Fine Arts Publishing House is the largest publisher of illustrated books. Rong Bao Zhai is located in the west section of Liu Li Chang Street outside of the He Ping Men (Peace Gate) in Beijing. It is a world-renowned Chinese cultural establishment specializing in the “four treasures of the study” (i.e. brushes, ink sticks, ink-stones, and paper), antiques, and publishing. It is a place frequented by artists and scholars from the Chinese mainland and abroad for the cultural exchange. Founded in 1672 (in the early years of the Qing Dynasty), Rong Bao Zhai has a history spanning more than three centuries. It has engaged in the businesses of art supplies (for the “four treasures of the study”), authentic paintings and calligraphy by Chinese art masters, antiques, art collectibles as well as letter and poem paper. Its watercolor woodblock printing technique is also known worldwide. Rong Bao Zhai has many subsidiaries including a publishing house, a Chinese art auction house, and an export trading company.

It has offices in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the U.S., and South Korea.

Chinese publishers specializing in music include the People’s Music Publishing House, Shanghai Music Publishing House, and the Hunan Literature & Art Publishing House.

2. Lifestyle Books

Lifestyle books cover fashion, home, cooking, entertainment, games, travel, self-help, health, sports, pets, hobby, collecting, or any subject related to everyday living. As living standards improve quickly, lifestyle books are becoming a fast growing sector.

There are 20,000 different lifestyle titles available in the market. Many lifestyle books have become favorites of the bestseller lists. In the past two years, health books have become quite popular. Dr. Hong Shaoguang on Health series by China’s famous medical expert Hong Shaoguang has sold over one million copies. Travel is another popular category with all variety of self-guided tour books, travel guides with special themes, and picture travel guides becoming steady sellers. The China Travel & Tourism Press, the country’s largest specialized travel publisher, publishes 400 new titles each year alone. Maps and atlases related to tourism and travel are the most popular. The fast growth of the Chinese tourist population, the exponential increase of private car and home ownership, the growing number of people opening up their own businesses, and the growth of overseas travel all have contributed to the demand for maps and atlases. City sightseeing maps, road atlases, and theme maps and atlases have become the three bestsellers in the map and atlas market.

The outstanding performers in this market are the most competitive publishers. Prominent publishers in the lifestyle book market are the China Light Industry Press, Jindun (Golden Shield) Publishing House, Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers, Liaoning Science and Technology Press, Jiangsu Science and Technology Publishing House, China Travel & Tourism Press, Guangdong Travel & Tourism Press, People’s Medical Publishing House, People’s Sports Publishing House, China Textile Press, China Architecture and Building Press, Beijing Sports University Press, China Agriculture Press, and the Beijing Publishing House.

The China Light Industry Press has been a fast growing publisher in recent years. Its sales revenue jumped to RMB230 million in 2001, up from RMB50 million in 1998. Its gross sales, operating revenue and profits have all increased by 60% annually. It has stellar brands in both books and magazines. Its fashion magazine, Rayli, licensed from Japan, is the most famous. Its well-known book lines include: Rayli Pocket Books, Everyone’s Gourmet, Road to Health, Everyday Dining, Eating in China, Chinese Crafts, and Interior Decoration and Design. (See also Chapter 3-B.)

Jindun (Golden Shield) Publishing House, affiliated with the General Logistics Department of the People’s Liberation Army, is another publisher with stellar performance. On one hand, it fulfils its main mission by serving the needs of the logistics and training divisions of the army and civic service personnel. On the other hand, it targets the mass market, especially readers in small towns and the countryside. It has focused on farmers through titles on the popular sciences and established book series in pragmatic areas such as: health, horticulture, animal husbandry, cooking, sewing, and knitting. It publishes thousands of titles each year with annual gross sales totaling over RMB200 million. Ninety percent of its 3,000 general interest titles get reprinted. On average, each title has a print run of some 100,000 copies. One title on how to rear pigs set the sales record of seven million copies sold. Jindun enjoyed the reputation that “wherever there are rural cooperatives, there are Jindun books.” This is a vast rural population with very low purchasing power, but Jindun has achieved great success by mainly serving these rural readers. To achieve such record sales with such a unique publishing line is quite a remarkable feat.

At present, there are 10 publishers specializing in maps and atlases. The leading publishers are the China Atlas Publishing House, Planet Earth Maps Press, Chengdu Atlas Publishing House, the People’s Transportation Publishing House, and Guangdong Atlas Press. The China Atlas Publishing House is affiliated with the Chinese National Cartography Bureau and is the largest map and atlas publisher with assets of RMB700 million whose publications account for 80% of the map and atlas market. It has 28 business divisions and branches in Shanghai, Wuhan and Xi’an along with a number of other business ventures, with a total of 800 employees. In the past five years, its annual gross sales have averaged RMB600 million and its maps and atlases have also been licensed and translated into many other languages and sold abroad.

3. Children’s Books

In 2002, 7,400 children’s titles including 4,200 new titles were published and 2.3 billion copies were sold. Total sales of children’s books reached RMB1.5 billion, representing 3.3% of national sales. The Beijing OpenBook Market Consulting Center has estimated that sales of children’s books account for 8% of the national retail market. Children’s books in the Chinese mainland are sub-classified as children’s arts and literature, encyclopedias, cartoons, books for toddlers and beginning readers, books for young readers, books for young adults, children’s classics, children’s intelligence development, hanging cards, hanging pictures, and handcrafts. The first four categories account for 60–70% of the children’s book market.

Generally speaking, children’s books are priced quite low. About 55% of children’s books are less than RMB10 (about US$1.20) for retail and 30% are priced between RMB10 and 20 (about US$1.20–2.41). Children’s books sold in high volumes have an average cover price between RMB6 and 8. In additional to perennially favorite titles, new bestselling children’s titles come up every year. For example, Flower Season, Rainy Season has sold one million copies in recent years and Boy Jia Li and Girl Jia Mei have sold 300,000 copies each. Pure children’s literature, fiction, stories, fairy tales, classics, and science fiction titles can all become bestsellers. Children’s publishing companies have also acquired the rights of many foreign titles, which have further diversified the sector. The Harry Potter series acquired by the People’s Literature Publishing House has sold five million copies in Chinese translation. The Goose Bumps series acquired by Jieli Publishing House sold 260,000 copies in Chinese translation. Nonetheless, there exist some problems in children’s book publishing, primarily the insufficient number of native Chinese authors, duplicated book titles, staggering growth, and market disorder caused by price wars. For example, there are 349 editions of the Tales of Hans Christian Andersen and 500 editions of Ten Thousand Whys.

In the Chinese mainland, there are 30 publishers specializing in children’s books. There are also 3,000 editors and an equal number of professional writers for children’s books. The leading children’s publishers are the China Children Publishing House, Juvenile and Children Publishing House, Zhejiang Children’s Books Publishing House, Jieli Publishing House, Jiangsu Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House, Tomorrow Publishing House, Sichuan Children’s Publishing House, Hunan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House, 21st Century Publishing House, and Anhui Juvenile Publishing House. In recent years, more publishers have entered into the area of young adult publishing. People’s Literature Publishing House, Jilin Fine Arts Publishing House, Zhejiang Education Publishing House, and Children’s Fun Publishing Co., Ltd. (a Sino-foreign joint venture) are the newcomers with impressive performance. China Children Publishing House, Juvenile and Children Publishing House, and Zhejiang Youth Publishing House have the broadest back catalogs and each of them have 1,000 titles in print. These three are top ranked in both unit and RMB sales for children’s books. Jiangsu Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House, Sichuan Children’s Publishing House, Tomorrow Publishing House, and Jieli Publishing House all have annual gross sales surpassing RMB200 million. Zhejiang Children’s Books Publishing House and Jieli Publishing House are the leaders in children’s publishing.

The China Children’s Press & Publication Group (CCPPG) is the only publishing group specializing in children’s books and has the largest scale and scope in children’s publishing. It is affiliated with Central Committee of the Communist Youth League. CCPPG publishes 1,000 titles annually in the form of printed books, audio, visual and multimedia publications with annual gross sales surpassing RMB400 million.

CCPPG owns the China Children’s Fun Publishing House, five juvenile newspapers including the Chinese Teenagers’ News, the Chinese Teenagers’ News City Kids Edition, China Children’s News, China Middle School Student News, China Children’s Pictorial, and 10 periodicals including the Middle School Student, We Love Science, Children’s Literature, Chinese Children, Toddler Pictorial, Infant Pictorial, Chinese Teenage Readers Digest and China Cartoons. It also has a website ( CCPPG also plays a leading role in the China Children’s Newspaper & Periodical Professionals Association, the China Children’s Publications Working Committee and the Chinese Board on Books for Young People.

The Chinese mainland has 360 million people aged 18 years and below, of which 300 million are below 14 years of age. The population of those 18 and younger in the Chinese mainland surpasses the entire population of the United States. According to publishing experts, children’s book revenues are expected to double over the next 10 years, reaching RMB3 billion. Therefore, children’s book publishing should have great potential for growth in the years to come.

4. Books on Social Sciences and Popular Sciences

In 2002, about 45,000 titles were published in the Chinese mainland on philosophy, politics, economics, military affairs, languages, history, geography, and education. Annual sales of social science books are RMB3.2 billion, accounting for 7% of total book sales. If professional books are excluded, the market share of social science books would be reduced.

There are 60 publishers specializing in social science books. The most well-known social science publishers are SDX Joint Publishing Co., Ltd., People’s Publishing House, China Social Science Publishing House, Peking University Press, Shanghai People’s Publishing House, Academia Press, China Renmin University Press, Guangdong People’s Publishing House, Jiangsu People’s Publishing House, Central Party Literature Publishing House, Sichuan People’s Publishing House, and Hebei People’s Publishing House.

SDX Joint Publishing Co., Ltd. is affiliated with the China Publishing Group. It is headquartered in Beijing with distribution and branches in 10 cities including Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Hangzhou, Jinan, Shenyang, Harbin, Kunming, Nanning, and Nanjing. Its annual title output is 500 with annual sales of RMB80 million. It is best known for its translations of the finest contemporary Western works in philosophy and the humanities. It also publishes similar subjects for laymen, reference books and culturally related titles. SDX Joint Publishing Co., Ltd. is the most prestigious and influential publisher in the social science field. Its magazines, Du Shu (Reading), SDX Weekly, and Music Lovers, also have great social influence and are regarded as leaders in their categories. Du Shu (Reading) is the most popular magazine among Chinese intellectuals.

The People’s Publishing House was the first well-known publisher of philosophy and social sciences. It specializes in Marxism, Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping’s Theories, the history of the Communist Party of China, and other social science and related works. It published 360 titles with annual sales of RMB180 million (about US$21.69 million) in 2003. Its magazines Xinhua (New China) Monthly, Xinhua (New China) Digest, and People are all well known among readers.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) is China’s highest research institution for social sciences and is regarded as one of China’s leading think-tanks. CASS has five publishing houses: the China Social Sciences Publishing House, China Social Science Documentation Publishing House, Modern China Publishing House, Economics Management Publishing House, and Local Records Publishing House. China Social Sciences Publishing House (CSSP) is the most influential and publishes 400 works per year, many of which are the fruit of the labors of first-rate scholars involved in priority projects of the country and CASS. The most famous academic works include Modern China Series, World Civilization Series, Selected Works of Chinese Social Science Scholars, The New Cambridge Modern History, Translation Series of Foreign Masterpieces on Ethics, Series of Famous Foreign Works on Business Administration, and Modern Western Thoughts Series.

Books on popular science have had modest growth over the last 10 years. According to a research report on popular science publishing from 1990 to 2001 published by GAPP, the Chinese mainland published 25,500 popular science titles over that decade, of which 19,100 were by Chinese authors, (accounting for 75% of the total market), while 6,400 were translations (accounting for 25%). In 2001, 4,400 popular science titles were published with 27.85 million copies sold and earning profits of RMB29.48 million. Most of the popular science books are natural science or technology related. Presently, there are 1,490 popular science editors.

Among all popular science books, medical books rank first, representing 12% of the total, while agriculture titles account for another 10%. In addition, there is a lot of variety in young adult popular science books, including earth studies and environmental titles. The great popular science books published in recent years were the First Driving Force series by Hunan Science & Technology Press, the Finest Works by Science Masters series by Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers, Library of Thinking Thrice by Jiangxi Education Publishing House, the World Famous Labs Series by Hebei University Publishing House, the Academician Popular Science series by Higher Education Press, the Sciences and Humanities series by SDX Joint Publishing Co., Ltd., History of Scientific Discoveries by Henan Scientific and Technology Publishing House, the Grand Perspectives on Environments Series by Shanghai Translation Publishing House, Outlook of Global Environment by China Environmental Science Press, Complete Book of Chinese Organic Living by Northeast Forestry University Press, What We Can Do for the Planet Earth by Guangxi Education Publishing House, and the Interpretation of Life series by Beijing Children’s Publishing House and Beijing Education Publishing House. The grand-scale Academician Popular Science series is completely written by academics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Publishers making rapid progress in acquiring the translation rights for popular science books are the World Publishing Corporation, Zhejiang Science and Technology Publishing House, Hunan Science & Technology Press, and Kaiming (Enlightenment) Publishing House. The Hunan Science & Technology Press translated and published works by Stephen W. Hawking to catch the “Hawking fever” in the Chinese mainland in recent years. Illustrated editions of A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell sold 150,000 copies each. The newly acquired A Brief History of Time (children’s edition) is in translation. Hawking’s biographies have also had impressive sales. However, due to the limited budget and shortage of qualified science translators, many excellent foreign popular science books cannot be introduced into the Chinese mainland quickly enough at this point in time.

Half of the popular science titles in the Chinese mainland have print runs below 5,000 copies and only a minority of them have print runs over 10,000 copies.

C. Professional Books

1. Overview

In the Chinese mainland, professional publishing refers to natural sciences (habitually regarded as science and technology), parts of the social sciences, and ancient Chinese classics. Natural science titles typically include titles covering mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, biology, medicine, agriculture, forestry, the environment, industry, and communications. In 2002, 37,940 natural science titles were published, of which 24,500 were new releases. Annual sales of science and technology books were RMB3.5 billion, representing 8% of the total book market. If academic books on social sciences are taken into account, sales of professional books are RMB5 billion to RMB6.5 billion, representing 16% of the total sales.

To encourage scientific and technological development and to promote professional book publishing, China has set up a National Book Foundation for academic works on science and technology. The highest grant of RMB10,000 is awarded to academic, fundamental theory, and applied technology works. Some local governments and publishers have also established similar academic awards and book grants.

The well-known professional publishers in science and technology are China Science Publishing Group, Publishing House of Electronics Industry, People’s Posts and Telecommunications Publishing House, People’s Medical Publishing House, Tsinghua University Press, China Architecture & Building Press, China Machine Press, China Communications Press, China Cartographic Publishing House, Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers, and Jiangsu Science and Technology Publishing House. (See Figure 2.6.)

The China Science Publishing Group is affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It is the largest comprehensive professional publishing group that specializes in science and technology. Its subsidiaries include the Science Press, Beijing Hope Computer Co., Beijing Kehai High Technology Corp., China Science and Technology University Press, and China National Sci-Tech Information Beijing Co. It publishes books and journals by Chinese and foreign authors on sciences and

technology, operations management, and basic scientific theories. Its publications also cover popular science, reference materials, and encyclopedias. At present, Science Press publishes 2,000 titles a year and 180 journals, including 29 in foreign languages. In 2003, its sales were RMB740 million (about US$89.16 million). It has branches in Shanghai, Wuhan, Shenyang, Changchun, Chengdu, and Shenzhen. It also has a full press operation in New York, which is the only overseas publishing operation set up by a publishing house from the Chinese mainland. The All China Scientific and Technological Terms Examination and Approval Committee and the Scientific Publishing Foundation Committee of the Chinese Academy of Sciences are both part of this publishing group.

Chinese classics are a unique part of Chinese book publishing. China is not only one of the oldest ancient civilizations, but also one of the few nations whose civilization has been continuously sustained from pre-history until the present. There are between 100,000 and 150,000 ancient Chinese books still preserved to this day. Classifying these ancient books and historical records has become a unique and important task of the publishing industry. At present, 500 of these classic titles are reissued each year. There are 22 publishing houses and 600 editors specializing in this area. The most prestigious classics publisher is the Zhonghua Book Company. The central government has a National Chinese Classics Classification and the Publication Planning Committee, whose office is affiliated with the GAPP. Each year, the government allocates special funds to catalog and publish ancient Chinese books. The most important classics that have been classified and published are: The Complete Collection of the Oracle Bone Inscriptions, The Great Tripitaka of China, Yong Le Encyclopedia, The Complete Four Treasures, The Collection of Documents on Dunhuang Grottoes and Turpan, The Complete Collection of Song Dynasty Poems, and Historical Records of the Qing Dynasty.

In addition, a significant number of books on traditional Chinese medicine and military strategy have been published. The English and Chinese editions of the Library of ChineseClassics series, which is soon to be published, is the first comprehensive and systematic introduction of Chinese classics to the world.

2. Engineering and Computer Books

As computers become increasingly popular, computer books have become one of the fastest growing book categories over the past 10 years. The number of computer books for both professional and general readers has increased by a large margin both in variety and market share. At present, there are 25,000 to 29,000 computer titles available on the market. Multimedia, Internet, programming, software guides, and basic computer science are the major subjects in the computer books market. The leading publishers specializing in information technology include the Publishing House of Electronics Industry, People’s Posts and Telecommunications Publishing House, China Machine Press, Tsinghua University Press, Hope Electronics Press, China Youth Press, China Waterpower Press, Science Press, Peking University Press, and Higher Education Press. The Publishing House of Electronics Industry is the most influential publisher in this field. It is affiliated with the Ministry of Information Industry and is also the first publisher in the Chinese mainland that has adopted the ISO 9000 quality control system. It mainly publishes books and textbooks on communication technology, journals on electronic and telecommunication technology, and books in electronic format. It also engages in other business ventures such as online publishing and network communications as well as information technology teaching and training programs. Its publishing range not only encompasses all the various subjects of information technology but also covers transportation, business and economics, foreign languages, and other fields. In 2001, it published 900 titles in print editions and 350 titles in electronic format with sales reaching RMB320 million.

Machine building and architecture are other major areas of professional publishing. Major publishers in this field are China Machine Press, China Architecture and Building Press, China Communications Press, Beijing Institute of Technology Press, China National Defense Industry Press, Liaoning Science and Technology Press, Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers, and China Building Material Press. China Machine Press is the leader of this field. It publishes books on mechanical engineering, automobile engineering, electrical engineering, electronics, instrument making, automation, computer technology, and business and management. It publishes 1,000 titles a year and has published 15,000 titles since its inception with annual sales of about RMB300 million. China Architecture and Building Press is the largest professional architecture publisher with an output of 1,600 titles a year. Its headquarters is in Beijing and it has branches in Shanghai and Guangzhou. It has a competitive distribution network and has its own chain stores in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou as well as its own online bookstore.

3. Medical Books

Medical books account for a large proportion of natural science titles. At present, 7,100 medical titles are published each year, second only to engineering and electronics titles in the total output of professional books with annual sales of RMB1 billion. Medicine, preventive medicine, and pharmaceutical titles are the top selling categories. Clinical medicine, illustrated plates, medical textbooks, and medical test guides are all important as well.

The print run for medical books is small. Generally, the first print run is 3,000–5,000 copies, and for some titles, the initial print run can be as low as 1,000–2,000 copies. Except for medical textbooks, it is very rare for a medical title to have over 10,000 copies printed. But medical books are priced much higher than general books, therefore, RMB revenues for medical books are considerable. To take the four-volume Campbell’s Operative Orthopedics, 9th edition, for example, rights for the Chinese edition were acquired and it was published by Shandong Science and Technology Press in February 2001. It is priced at RMB980 (US$118.07). The original English edition was priced at US$480, about four times the price of the Chinese edition. Normally, the average U.S. cover price is 10 times the price of a Chinese edition. Science Press published the English reprint edition with the cover price of RMB734 (about US$88), which is one-fifth the cost of the original U.S. edition.

In recent years, the rights to more and more foreign medical titles have been acquired. Chinese medical publishers have a special interest in books on the latest medical technologies that are much needed, such as books on MRI and PTCA. For example, the Illustrated PTCA was licensed from Japan by China Science and Technology Press. In addition, Chinese publishers are also interested in books on medical practices and those written by international medical authorities such as Cecil’s Textbook of Medicine, Williams Obstetrics, and Campbell’s Operative Orthopedics.

At present, there are six million medical professionals in the Chinese mainland and medical colleges plan to increase enrolment. Therefore, medical books have great market potential.

There are about 50 Chinese publishers engaging in medical publications, a dozen of which are the leading professional medical publishers, such as the People’s Medical Publishing House, People’s Military Medical Press, China Medico-Pharmaceutical Science & Technology Publishing House, Peking University Medical Press, China Press of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Peking Union Medical College Press, People’s Military Medical Press, and Second Military Medical University Press. In addition, some science and technology presses and a few trade publishers have also published a good number of medical books. The important players include Science Press, Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers, Jiangsu Science and Technology Publishing House, Liaoning Science and Technology Press, Shandong Science and Technology Press, Zhejiang Science and Technology Press, Hunan Science and Technology Press, Tianjin Science and Technology Press, Tianjin Science & Technology Translation Company, Beijing Science and Technology Press, Shanghai Scientific and Technological Literature Publishing House, and Jindun (Golden Shield) Publishing House. The People’s Medical Publishing House alone captures half of the medical book market while the rest take 20% of the market share.

People’s Medical Publishing House is affiliated with the Ministry of Heath. It is the largest and most competitive and diversified medical publishing house in the market. It publishes academic medical works, medical textbooks, medical reference books and popular medical science titles ranging from modern medicine and pharmacology to traditional Chinese medicine. Its publishing programs are comprehensive and include titles on all imaginable medical subjects. As of 2002, People’s Medical Publishing House had 500 different medical textbooks available, of which 60 textbooks were for modern medical education courses and 70 were named as the key textbooks by the Ministry of Education and as textbooks of national excellence. Its Internal Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics, Anatomy & Embryology, and Physiology titles have print runs of over 1.5 million copies each. Some of its medical textbooks went through many revisions and have become time-honored course books in the Chinese mainland. Over the past 50 years, People’s Medical Publishing House has published 20,000 books and printed 67 million copies, with 1,000 titles published and 10 million copies distributed each year. Its current annual sales have surpassed RMB500 million (US$60.24 million).

4. Business and Law Books

Business and law books for professionals (excluding those for general readers) do not have a big market in the Chinese mainland. According to an estimate by the Beijing OpenBook Market Consulting Center, business and law books, including those for general readers, accounted for only 8% of the retail book market.

Among the professional business books, accounting, taxation, finance, medical insurance, and management titles sell well. For example, Tax Planning, Tax Exemption Cases,Solutions to Complicated Tax Issues, Intermediate Accounting, and Intermediate Investment are popular titles. Business textbooks also have substantial sales followed by business-related standardized test guides. As the Chinese mainland implements an annual national test for registered accountants, study guides on accounting and taxation have taken a more important position. Test guides and supplementary readings on accounting, taxation, auditing, and economics have impressive sales. Books on personal finance such as investment guides, have the largest retail market share among all business books.

The important business book publishers are the China Financial & Economic Publishing, China Financial Publishing House, Economic Science Press, Economic Management Press, China Taxation Press, Peking University Press, Tsinghua University Press, China Renmin University Press, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics Press, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics Press, and Li Xin Accounting Press. China Financial & Economic Publishing House and the six university presses mentioned above dominate the business textbook market for higher education. Imported business textbooks including reprint editions are very popular and many of them are preferred over similar Chinese books.

Personal finance for general readers always hold an important position. There are over 300 titles on various topics of stocks available on the market. At the Beijing Book Building, the largest bookstore in the country, 200 personal finance titles are on display. It is estimated that if each personal finance title has a print run of 30,000 copies, two in ten stock investors will own a stock investment guide.

Books on law and politics are regarded as one category. In 2002, the Chinese mainland published 7,100 titles on law and politics, of which 5,400 were new titles. There are 112 million copies of law and politics books in print with a retail value of RMB1.77 billion. 3,550 titles on law with a total retail value of RMB885 million was published each year.

Law books in the Chinese mainland can be sub-categorized into legal theory, legal practice, legal documents, and legal text guides. Outside legal theory, all the other three sub-categories account for the largest percentage of the legal book market.

The most well-known law book publishers are the Law Press, China Legal Publishing House, The People’s Court Press, China University of Political Science and Law Press, China Democratic and Legal Publishing House, China Prosecution Press, China Fang Zheng Press, Peking University Press, China Renmin University Press, Jilin People’s Publishing House, Higher Education Press, and Chinese People’s Public Security University Press.

Law Press is the largest and most influential publisher of legal titles. It publishes in seven areas: legal documents, case law, legal education, legal academic research, law testing, general law, and legal journals. It owns China’s first Attorney Club, along with the China Law Book Co., Ltd. and a comprehensive online legal bookstore. Law Press publishes 600 titles each year, with annual sales of RMB100 million (US$12.05 million) and annual pre-tax operating profits of RMB30 million (US$3.61 million), has dominated the legal book market for years.

As the Chinese mainland builds its legal system, an interest in law books has grown steadily each year and this market is expected to continue to expand. Medical doctors and lawyers are part of the high-income class, therefore, law and medical books are priced relatively high. Some law and business book publishers hold trade fairs in Beijing each January to promote books and provide consolidated order services to their distributors.

D. Educational Publishing

1. An Overview

Educational publishing constitutes the largest industry segment in terms of market share. In 2002, more than 25,800 textbooks were published, of which 8,163 were new titles. There were 11,995 textbooks for the college level and higher, accounting for 46% of all textbooks published. Primary and secondary (including high school and secondary vocational) schoolbooks took second place with 8,260 textbooks published. Textbooks and teaching materials for vocational schools and continuing education ranked third. Textbooks generate a whopping revenue of RMB20 billion (US$2.41 billion). College and secondary/ higher vocational school textbooks contribute to RMB3 billion (US$361.45 million) in revenue, representing 15% of the educational book market. Ninety-three percent of the 568 publishers in the Chinese mainland participated in the publication of teaching and study guides to grab a share of this huge market.

In addition to textbooks, teaching guides and supplementary materials also have a large market. According to an estimate by the Beijing OpenBook Market Consulting Center, 13,300 new teaching guides and supplementary materials were published in 2001, with a total of 66,720 different ones available in the market in the same year. Education and university presses are the main forces in publishing reference, teaching supplements, and study related books. The active players in this section are the Longman Book Company, Jilin Educational Publishing House, Shaanxi Normal University Press, Northeast Normal University Press, Guangxi Normal University Press, Beijing Normal University Press, and Jiangsu Education Publishing House.

Educational publishers can be classified into three categories: those affiliated with the Ministry of Education such as the Higher Education Press and Educational Science Press; those affiliated with the provincial government such as the educational publishing house in each province; and those affiliated with universities such as the university presses. Of these, provincial educational publishing houses hold a very important and special position.

Each province has one education publishing house that is responsible for publishing textbooks as well as teaching and study guides for its province. In the old days of the planned economy, these houses did very well by publishing, printing and distributing textbooks and teaching and study aids to meet local demand on a monopolistic basis. Some provincial educational publishers have accumulated assets well above hundreds of millions RMB and have enjoyed far better earnings than publishers in other sectors, making them the richest publishers historically. Even today, educational publishers in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Anhui, Shandong, Fujian, Hebei, Shanghai, Hubei, Shanxi, and Liaoning provinces still enjoy handsome annual gross sales in the hundreds of millions RMB. With the transformation to a market economy, many of the preferential policies enjoyed by the provincial educational publishers are gradually being phased out, decreasing their market share. Those who could not adapt to the market economy are losing ground. However, some who altered their publishing strategies in a timely fashion and who were reactive to the market changes have become competitive players. The publishers who have fared well are the Hebei Education Press, Liaoning Education Press, Hubei Education Press, and Jiangsu Education Publishing House.

2. Higher Education and University Presses

Higher education publishing is a sector that is considered to be closest to a market economy and is least restricted, enjoying the fastest growth in recent years. There are 16 million college students, with another 4.5 million students in community colleges, schools for continuing education, and vocational schools. According to the Chinese mainland’s five-year development plan, the number of college students in campuses throughout the country is to reach 16–17 million by 2005. This number does not include the students in community colleges. At present, the annual RMB sales of college textbooks is RMB2.5 billion. By 2005, sales are expected to be higher still.

The leading higher education publishers are the Higher Education Press, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, Tsinghua University Press, Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, China Renmin University Press, Peking University Press, and Publishing House of Electronics Industry. All these publishers have achieved annual sales of over RMB100 million and the first six have topped RMB300 million.

The Higher Education Press is affiliated with the Ministry of Education and is the most powerful establishment in the higher education publishing market with assets of RMB1 billion (US$120.48 million). With huge annual gross sales of RMB1 billion, it dwarfs all the other 568 Chinese educational publishers targeting the college segment. It ranks first in both sales revenues and sales of college textbooks in seven disciplines: foreign languages (mostly English), business, electronics, science and engineering, law, humanities, and public health and medicine. The Higher Education Press was founded in 1954 and has published 30,000 textbook titles since 1978 with a current annual title output of 3,800. It has printed 90 million books in total. At present, the Higher Education Press has reached an agreement with three university presses, including Zhongshan University Press, to form the Higher Education Publishing Group.

If the deal goes through, the new organization is expected to become one of the most competitive publishing groups in the Chinese mainland.

There are more than 1,000 universities in the Chinese mainland. Among 101 university presses, 24 are affiliated with leading national universities, and 77 are attached to local universities. Unlike their U.S. and U.K. not-for-profit counterparts, these university presses operate as profit centers just as commercial presses. However, with the exception of a dozen, the revenue level of a typical university press is well below the book industry’s average. Among the 50 publishers surpassing RMB100 million in revenue, only 14 are university presses. These top performers are the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, Tsinghua University Press, Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, People’s Education Press, Guangxi Normal University Press, Fudan University Press, Peking University Press, China Central Radio and Television University Press, East China Normal University Press, South West Normal University Press, and Shaanxi Normal University Press.

The Tsinghua University Press publishes 2,000 titles in printed books, audio, and electronic formats annually, of which 800 are new titles. It has 1,200 sales outlets throughout the country, annual unit sales have reached RMB13 million, and annual gross revenues have surpassed RMB400 million. Its C++ Programing Design has cumulative sales of four million copies, setting a new record for science and technology titles.

In addition, Tsinghua University Press has acquired the reprint rights for 200 foreign titles each year. It has a long history of publishing reprints of original textbooks in varying disciplines. The Beijing Normal University Press is another impressive performer among the university presses with an annual output of 340 titles and gross sales of RMB300 million.

3. Elementary and High School

The elementary and high school (ELHI) textbook publishing market totals RMB17 billion, representing 40% of national book sales revenues. In 2002, 12,000 kinds of ELHI textbooks, reference books, after-class and home schooling materials were published, of which 3,530 were high school textbooks and 4,730 were elementary school textbooks. At present, there are nearly 218 million ELHI students, of which 122 million are elementary school students and 95.96 million are high school students. The market for high school books is 50% larger than that of elementary school books. According to China’s education laws, nine years of free education is universally provided.

The state sets up national committees to examine and approve the ELHI textbooks compiled by various publishers. Any unit or group that wish to publish ELHI textbooks for those in the national nine-year free compulsory education system must submit their plans to the provincial education bureau for a feasibility review. Upon provincial approval, the proposal must be submitted to the Ministry of Education’s Committee for ELHI Textbooks for validation. The People’s Education Press, leading national universities, science and research units at the ministry level, and national academic bodies can directly submit their complete sets of ELHI textbooks to the Ministry of Education for evaluation. Approved textbooks can then be published and distributed nationwide. At present, six complete series of ELHI textbooks have been adopted nationwide and over 75 single-subject ELHI textbooks are in use.

There are three major ELHI textbook developers in the Chinese mainland. The first are the provincial textbook research units such as the Jiangsu Provincial Teaching and Research Committee and the Hebei Teaching Science Academy. The second are course research and development units established by normal universities (e.g. the Textbook Writing and Compiling Committee of Beijing Normal University Course Center). The third are schoolbook publishers such as the People’s Education Press and Yu Wen Press. Developing a single textbook requires a RMB50,000–80,000 initial investment. The central government has final control over the list price and the profits of ELHI textbooks. A publisher cannot earn more than 5% profit nor can it include the initial investment in their pricing calculations.

As the restrictions for textbook development are now being relaxed, more and more publishers are jumping on the bandwagon. People’s Education Press is the leader with 50 years of experience in ELHI textbook development and publishing. It is affiliated with the Ministry of Education and is primarily engaged in research on curricula, writing, compiling, publishing, and distributing general textbooks, textbooks of specific subjects, and related material. Before 1996, the People’s Education Press participated in developing the syllabi of all ELHI subjects and has compiled and published nine series of national ELHI textbooks. It has millions of readers and has printed tens of billions of textbooks. Its publishing scope encompasses textbooks for kindergarten, elementary and high schools to colleges and universities, and textbooks and related materials for vocational schools, special education, secondary education for adults, and ELHI teachers’ training materials. It also owns printing factories and the China Educational Publications Import & Export Corporation. It publishes 1,000 titles a year and has annual revenues approaching RMB1.2 billion, the highest among all publishers. Beijing Normal University Press, Jiangsu Education Publishing House, and the East China Normal University Press also have performed solidly in developing ELHI textbooks. Teaching materials catering to local needs are primarily published by provincial educational publishers.

4. Foreign Language and Reference Books

As part of the overall educational book market, reference and language learning books have a substantial share. Over the past 50 years, there have been 10,000 dictionaries published. Famous language and reference books include the Encyclopedia of China by Encyclopedia of China Publishing House, Ci Hai (Chinese Idioms) by Shanghai Encyclopedia Publishing House, Ci Yuan (Word Origins), The English-Chinese Dictionary, Xinhua Dictionary, and Modern Chinese Dictionary by The Commercial Press. The concise Xinhua Dictionary has sold over 300 million copies and the medium sized Modern Chinese Dictionary has sold 40 million copies, both outselling any other dictionary in the same category. Xinhua Chinese Dictionary is regarded as the most saleable book after the Holy Bible. At present, there are 20 dictionary and reference publishers publishing 500 reference titles annually.

Language reference books represent the largest share of the reference book market. The best-known reference publishers are The Commercial Press, Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House, Encyclopedia of China Publishing House, and Sichuan Lexicographical Publishing House.

The Commercial Press was founded in 1897 in Shanghai and is the oldest Chinese publishing house. In the 1930s, it was the largest publishing company in Asia and the powerhouse of China’s educational and academic publishing. In 1954, The Commercial Press moved to Beijing. Over the past 100 years, The Commercial Press has published 30,000 titles. At present, it engages mainly in the translation and publication of academic works on philosophy and social sciences and compiling and publishing dictionaries and linguistic reference books. It also publishes research works, textbooks, and popular titles as side ventures. Its World’s Best Known Academic Works is the most extensive and influential series of foreign philosophy and social sciences published in Chinese in the past 50 years. The Commercial Press publishes 200 titles per year and its retail sales reached RMB400 million (US$48.19 million) in 2002. The now independent Commercial Presses of Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur were all subsidiaries of The Commercial Press in Shanghai before 1949.

The Chinese mainland is not only a country with the largest Chinese-speaking population, but it is also the country with the largest English-learning population. At present, the number of English learners has surpassed 30 million with some elementary and high schools adopting bilingual education. Shanghai plans to train 10,000 bilingual teachers, adopt bilingual education in 500 schools, and provide bilingual education to 500,000 students. As the Chinese mainland continues to open to the world, the learners of foreign languages, especially English, will increase more rapidly.

English learning books are the fastest growing sector of the educational book market. At present, English learning books make up 6–8% of the retail book market. Basic English, dictionaries and test guides are the three major components of English learning books. Among the 560 publishers, 80% have published books in English, and a number have become great foreign language presses. The most important publishers in this area are the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press (FLTRP), Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, The Commercial Press, and World Publishing Corporation. In addition, the Foreign Languages Press, Shanghai Translation Publishing House, Higher Education Press, China Renmin University Press, World Affairs Press, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Press, and Tsinghua University Press also have a good share in the English language book market.

FLTRP founded by the Beijing Foreign Studies University is the most famous university press in China. It primarily publishes textbooks, dictionaries, and teaching guides and supplementary materials in foreign languages along with several periodicals. At present, FLTRP has assets of RMB500 million, a 80,000 square meter distribution center valued at RMB300 million, and 15 information centers across the country. It publishes 1,600 titles annually and in 2002 had gross sales reaching RMB800 million (US$96.39 million). The state-of-the-art FLTRP office building with a floor space of 17,000 square meters is named one of the “Top 10 New Buildings in Beijing” in the 1990s and is regarded as a landmark for the book publishing industry. The Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press has also shown remarkable performance with annual sales of RMB400 million.

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The Book Publishing Industry in the Chinese Mainland

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