Magazine Publishing in the Chinese Mainland

views updated

3 Magazine Publishing in the Chinese Mainland

A. Brief Introduction to Magazine Publishing

B. General Interest Magazines I

C. General Interest Magazines II

A. Brief Introduction to Magazine Publishing

1. Overview

According to the statistics provided by the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), by the end of 2002 there was a total of 9,029 magazine titles published. The average print run was 20,406 copies per issue and the total print run was 2.951 billion copies, i.e. two copies per capita. Magazine advertising revenue reached approximately RMB2.65 billion (US$319.28 million), an average based on the official figure of RMB1.5 billion to RMB3.8 billion, the estimate of the Beijing Hui Cong Media Research Center. Although magazine publishing in the Chinese mainland is a relatively big industry, it still lags behind established magazine publishing industries and compares strongly only with other developing countries. Nevertheless, the Chinese mainland’s magazine market is growing with impressive speed.

Magazines are generally divided into seven categories based on coverage, such as natural sciences (science and technology), philosophy and social sciences, cultural and educational, literature and art, children’s, pictorial, and general interest magazines. (See Figure 3.1.) Natural sciences magazines are the most numerous, with 4,457 titles in 2002, accounting for about 49.4% of the total. The other six categories of magazines ranked in descending order are: philosophy and social sciences magazines (2,318 titles, about 25.7%), cultural and educational magazines (about 957 titles, about 10.6%), general interest magazines (547 titles, about 6%), literature and art magazines (539 titles, about 6%), children’s magazines (149 titles, about 1.7%), and pictorial magazines (62 titles, about 0.7%). A quarter of these magazines are published by national publishers and the others by regional publishers.

Of the seven categories, children’s magazines have the largest average print run with nearly 167,200 copies per issue, 110,000 copies more than general magazines which rank second. The average print numbers for other magazines is 53,200 copies per issue for general interest, 31,900 for cultural and educational, 29,800 for philosophy and social sciences, 29,300 for literature and art, 14,200 for pictorial, and 7,500 for natural sciences.

Monthly magazines are the most common. Of the various types of magazines such as the monthly, the bimonthly, the biweekly, the 10-day periodical, the weekly and the quarterly,

the monthly magazine is most popular with 3,094 titles, accounting for 34.3% of total magazine publications. This is followed by the bimonthly and quarterly, which account for 30.9% and 26.3% of the total. In major cities, TV and news weeklies are becoming more popular, while entertainment and leisure magazines still mostly have a monthly print cycle.

Publishing capacity varies in different regions. Generally speaking, big cities and coastal regions are well developed and take the lead in many aspects such as editing, distributing, and printing. Well-developed regions include Beijing, Guangdong, Shanghai, Hubei, Liaoning, Shandong, Henan, Anhui, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu; of which Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, and Shanghai are the strongest.

The Beijing region is the national center of politics and culture and ranks first both in the number of magazines and circulation volume. There are more than 2,370 magazines based in Beijing with a total printing volume of more than 809 million copies, accounting for 26.7% and 27.9%, respectively, of the national total. Of the 133 magazines with an average print run of over 250,000, 39 are published in Beijing, accounting for nearly one-third of the total. Thirty-eight of these are produced by national publishers.

Outside Beijing, Guangdong and Shanghai boast the strongest publishing capacity, producing 351 and 616 magazines respectively, ranking third and second. Guangdong magazines have a total average print run of 15.84 million, with the Shanghai magazines weighing in at 14.12 million copies, ranking second and third respectively. Of the 133 magazines with an average print run of over 250,000, 11 are based in Guangdong and 6 in Shanghai, ranking second and sixth respectively. Five Guangdong magazines have an average print run exceeding one million. More importantly, most popular magazines in Guangdong and Shanghai are commercial magazines subscribed to or bought by individuals, with a few distributed through industrial distribution channels. Prominent magazines in Guangdong and Shanghai are Gu Shi Hui (Stories), Jia Ting (Family), Ren Zhi Chu (The Origins of People), Family Doctor, Foshan Literature and Art, Shaonan Shaonu (Teenagers), Shanghai Gushi (Shanghai Stories), Gushi Dawang (King of Stories), Shanghai Style, and Shanghai TV.

In an effort to encourage the publication of excellent magazines, the government and trade organizations have established various periodical awards, of which the National Periodical Award offered by GAPP is the most prestigious. Other major awards are the National Excellent Social Sciences Periodical Award, the National Excellent Sciences and Technology Periodical Award, and the 100 Major Social Sciences Periodicals Award. Comprehensive publishing awards at the national level such as the Taofen Publishing Award and the 100 Best Publishers also cover periodical publishers.

Well-known magazine publishing personalities include President and Editor-in-Chief of the Trends Magazines Wu Hong and Liu Jiang, President of Rayli Zhao Jiqing, Nan Feng Chuang (Southwind Through Window) Editor-in-Chief Qin Shuo, Cai Jin (Finance and Economy) Editor-in-Chief Hu Shuli, SDX Weekly Editor-in-Chief Zhu Wei, Zhi Yin (Bosom Friend) Editor-in-Chief Hu Xunbi, Modern and Ancient Legends President Shu Shaohua, Du Zhe (Reader) Editor-in-Chief Peng Changcheng, Stories Editor-in-Chief He Chengwei, Chinese National Geography President Li Quanke, Women of China President Han Xiangjing, and Chairman of The Journal of Chinese Medical Association (Internal Medicine) You Suning. Private publishers are emerging in the Chinese mainland and some of them have become quite successful.

As well as these mass-distributed magazines, there are about 10,000 in-house magazines or periodicals that mostly belong to various companies and organizations and are distributed internally free of charge. Some of them print a considerable number of copies, such as Konka News of the famous electronic enterprise Konka Group, which has a circulation of 300,000 copies. The Vanke Weekly of the Vanke Group, also has considerable circulation volume and exerts some national influence.

2. Distribution and Advertising

In terms of distribution channels, magazines in the Chinese mainland can be divided into two categories: the “commercial magazines” which are voluntarily subscribed to or bought by readers in the market, and “non-commercial magazines” which are distributed within an organization or industry. Distribution within an organization or industry is done in three different ways: first, the Ministry of Education requires students to subscribe to certain magazines as supplementary learning materials; second, members of organizations such as the Communist Party of China, the Youth League and trade groups subscribe to their organizational magazines; third, magazine sponsors require subscriptions by members of certain organizations or industries by using higher administrative or executive power. Of the three, the latter two are typically non-market-oriented operations (the subscription fees are mostly covered by public funds), while the first also has the trace of a command economy to some degree. In 2003, the central government adopted severe measures to curtail these practices, and 667 magazines and newspapers, including 395 magazines, went out of business and 94 magazines and newspapers turned to free of charge distribution.

The Post Office acts as a major distribution channel for most magazines. The limitations are obvious, and the major problems include the fact that the Post Office controls the subscription lists. Therefore, the magazine publishers do not know who their subscribers are and are unable to get feedback, and the service quality and capacity of the Post Office is becoming more and more questionable. There are no other well-developed distribution channels and a lack of professional sales agents.

In 2002, there were 133 magazines with an average print run of more than 250,000 per issue and 24 magazines with circulation over 1 million. Of these, Gu Shi Hui (Stories), Xiaoxuesheng Daokan (Pupil’s Journal), Ban Yue Tan (China Comment), and Du Zhe (Reader) have an average print run of

over 2 million per issue, with Gu Shi Hui (Stories) the largest with 3.712 million copies per issue. Over the past 10 years, the total circulation volume of magazines in the Chinese mainland has been almost constant at about 2.8 billion.

Of the magazines listed in Figure 3.2, many of them are distributed within an organization or industry, i.e. “noncommercial” magazines, such as the magazines for primary school students and Communist Party members. The ranking of leading commercial magazines based on free market sales is shown in Figure 3.3.

Currently, there is no true professional reading survey company, but the Business Publication Audit (BPA) has already commenced operations. BPA has authorized Global China (Beijing) Media Consulting Co., Ltd. to be its local agent, conferring newspapers distribution and sales level certificates to publishers, and more than 30 media companies have adopted the BPA protocol.

Magazine advertising takes only a small share of total advertising expenditure. It has never exceeded 3% of the total and lags far behind that spent on TV, newspaper, and radio advertising. The statistics in 2000 provided by the China Advertising Association showed that advertising percentages taken by TV, newspapers, radios, and magazines were 23.7%, 20.6%, 2.2% and 1.6%, respectively. In 2002, magazine advertising was about 2% of total. However in recent years magazine advertising revenue has increased rapidly with an average annual growth rate of 25%. According to Hui Cong Media Research Center, magazine advertising revenue reached RMB4.9 billion (US$590.36 million) in 2003. The magazine categories with the highest advertising revenues are fashion, business, IT, and lifestyle (in descending order).

The seven major categories of magazines can be divided into three groups based on their editorial content and publisher: general magazines, professional magazines, and university journals. General magazines refer to commercial magazines that are totally market-oriented and subscribed to and bought by individual customers. These include literature and art magazines,

cultural and educational magazines, children’s magazines, and pictorial magazines. Professional magazines include social sciences and natural sciences magazines as well as some cultural and educational magazines, and both have small readership. University journals belong to the category of professional magazines but their publishers are very different in structure, and are therefore grouped in a separate category.

3. Major Trends in Magazine Publishing and Major Problems

Magazine publishing in the Chinese mainland has entered into a stage of change and rapid development. Currently, the major features of magazine publishing are the different reader profiles divided by reader groups, the establishment of large publishing groups, investment in many new titles, and increasing cooperation with international companies and adoption of international standards and practices.

The different reader profiles are related to both different reader groups and varying editorial content. Identifying the target reader group has become the primary factor in determining the success of a magazine and, accordingly, editorial content must have focus in order to attract the desired readers. The previous broad reader profiles that had no distinction in age or background no longer apply. For instance, women’s magazines currently have different areas of focus such as upmarket fashion, pop culture, and entertainment. Other magazines mirror this pattern. A new trend has emerged, and that is to identify the target reader profile in order to target the right readers.

Another new trend in magazine publishing is the formation of magazine publishing groups. Some well-managed magazines with their own star products have begun to expand their market share by launching new magazines or acquiring others, and thus forming magazine groups. Now there are several magazine publishing companies operating on this scale such as Jia Ting (Family), Zhi Yin (Bosom Friend), Trends, and Modern and Ancient Legends, and some of them have become the leading representatives of the magazine publishing industry. As the market economy continues to develop, this trend will continue.

More commonly, capital from various sources has begun to be invested in magazine publishing. As the state-owned monopoly is broken, capital from other industries and private sources will enter into this market. In addition to media groups, some industrial enterprises have also begun to invest in magazine publishing, such as 999 Group (a famous medicine manufacturer) investing in the New Weekly and the Chengcheng Group (a printing and real estate enterprise) investing in Hope. Also, it is not uncommon for private companies and individuals to invest in magazines. For instance, Hong Huang has invested in several magazines including Mingpai Shijie • Le (Famous Brand World • Enjoy), iLOOK, and Seventeen.

The third trend is that in both investment and management magazine publishers have engaged in international cooperation and have taken the lead among all the different publishing sectors in this respect. Currently, capital from foreign countries, Hong Kong and Taiwan have found their way into magazine publishing with the establishment of joint ventures and alliances. More than 50 magazine titles are now issued with foreign involvement. Many internationally well-known magazines have also published Chinese editions, and some of them have achieved unusual success. Meanwhile, several Chinese magazines have ventured abroad. For example, Chinese National Geography launched a Japanese edition, the Big Front Teeth, a product of the cooperation between Hong Kong publishers and Dongfang Wawa (Oriental Babies) of Jiangsu Juvenile Children’s Publishing House, has circulation in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, and Zhi Yin (Bosom Friend), Nu You (Woman’s Friend), and Du Zhe (Reader) launched overseas editions in both North America and Australia.

The Chinese mainland’s magazine publishing industry also has many problems, of which the most obvious include the lack of sound distribution channels and independent distribution agents. Also, problems lie in that there are insufficient regulations governing competition and service quality of the Post Office needs urgent improvement.

4. Professional Magazines

There are about 7,000 professional magazines now in circulation. Most publishers of these magazines are research institutes and these magazines have small circulations because of their specialized content. These magazines have distribution of between 2,000 and 3,000 copies per issue, with social sciences magazines having a slightly larger circulation than those of the natural sciences. Also, they carry little advertising except for some advertisements regarding professional information.

The 2,300 social sciences magazines cover various disciplines including philosophy, politics, economics, religion, law, history, and archeology; and each of the disciplines generally has more than one magazine. For instance, in history and archeology there are several dozen magazines including Historical Research, Research on Chinese History, Modern Chinese History Studies, World History, Taiwan Studies, The Western Regions Studies, Dunhuang Studies, Literature and History, Archeology, Cultural Relics, and Xun Geng (Root-Seeking).

Prominent social sciences magazines with international influence are Cultural Relics, Archeology, Dunhuang Studies, Social Sciences in China, Philosophical Research, Confucius Studies, China Tibetology, Tibetan Studies, Qiu Shi (Searching Truth), Study of the History of CPC, Study of World Religions, Economic Research Journal, Educational Research, Strategy and Management, Zhongguo Junshi Kexue (China’s Military Science), China Legal Science, Zhongguo Yuwen (Chinese Language Studies), Wenxue Pinglun (Literature Review), and Journal of the Library Science in China. Xinhua Digest and Chinese Social Sciences Digest are the most authoritative digest magazines.

Cultural Relics was first published in January 1950 and covers cultural relics, archeology, history, ancient characters, art history, and scientific and technological history. As one of the major magazines specializing in cultural relics and archeology in China, it boasts the highest circulation for magazines in this category and ranks first among them in terms of overseas circulation. Archeology was first launched in 1955 by the Institute of Archeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and ranks first among archeology magazines. It enjoys overseas distribution to more than 20 countries and regions and has always been the leading Chinese magazine in terms of overseas circulation. Social Sciences in China, a bimonthly magazine published by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences since 1979, focuses on presenting the most important research in philosophy and social sciences. The publisher of Social Sciences in China also publishes Social Sciences in China Quarterly in English and the Historical Research bimonthly, the most authoritative magazine on history. It also translates and publishes the International Social Science Journal.

There are a great number of natural sciences magazines, accounting for nearly 50% of total magazine titles. In terms of subjects, magazines on industrial technology have the highest number of copies sold, accounting for about 40% of this sector, followed by medicines and hygiene, accounting for 16%, and agriculture, accounting for 13%. In addition, there are some scientific and technological magazines published in the languages of national minorities, accounting for 10–15% of the total number of minority languages magazines.

Many natural sciences magazines have achieved international influence, and prominent ones include Science in China, Chinese Science Bulletin, Acta Mathematica Sinica, Engineering Science, Engineering Mechanics, China Agricultural Science and Technology, Chinese Medical Journal, Chinese Journal of Surgery, Acta Physiologica Sinica, Acta Botanica Sinic a, Chinese Journal of Geophysics, Acta Metallurgica Sinica, Acta Seismologica Sinica, Acta Mechanica Sinica, Journal of China Coal Society, Acta Genetica Sinica, Journal of Population, Environment and Resources in China, and Rare Metal Materials and Engineering.

Many scientific and technological magazines issue English language versions, such as the Chinese Journal of Aeronautics, Chinese Journal of Chemistry, Chinese Journal of Geochemistry, Chinese Physics Letters, Chinese Journal of Oceanology and Limnology, Journal of Rare Earths, and Life Sciences andEnvironmental Sciences. According to the Institute for Scientific Information of the United States, 67 of these magazines had entered the world famous SCI periodical index system by 2001.

Universities and colleges also publish their own journals. Currently, there are about 3,000 various journals, generally divided between both social and natural sciences. Prominent titles include the Journal of Peking University, Tsinghua Science and Technology, Journal of Nanjing University, Chemical Journal of Chinese Universities, and the Journal of Literature, History and Philosophy.

B. General Interest Magazines I

General interest magazines are the most market-oriented and can be divided into two categories based on the different revenue sources, the first earning the revenues mainly from subscriptions and the other primarily from advertising. Magazines relying on subscription revenue are mostly digests, literature and art magazines, and lifestyle magazines. This category of magazines caters to the interests of ordinary people and carries no specific regional uniqueness. While using the Post Office as their major distribution channel, they also develop their own distribution channels to increase circulation. Social groups with low to middle incomes and students in the cities and towns constitute the bulk of the readers of these magazines. Prominent examples are Gu Shi Hui (Stories), Du Zhe (Reader), Qingnian Wenzhai (Youth Digest), Zhi Yin (Bosom Friend), Globe, and Shang Jie (Business World). These magazines do not have a large amount of advertising income and most advertisements are small in size.

The magazines relying on advertising attract mostly readers with middle to high incomes, and the editorial content is more focused and layout more fashionable. With exquisite design and excellent printing, these magazines sell at high prices. Good examples of this type of magazines are Cosmopolitan, Rayli, Fortune (China), and Auto Magazine. Advertisements in these magazines display images of excellent quality and an exquisite style and are mostly full page.

Magazines can be further classified into sub-categories including fashion and style, business, electronic information, lifestyle, news and digest (learning), of which fashion and style, business, and news are the most popular.

1. Female Fashion Magazines

In recent years, fashion magazines have had the fastest growth and the greatest impact. The women’s magazine market has had the greatest expansion since most of these fashion magazines focus on topics of interest to women and attract female readers. Well-known women’s fashion magazines include Rayli, Trends Cosmopolitan, Elle (China), Hong (Madame Figaro), Marie Clarie (China), Shanghai Style, Hope, and Shape. The China Book Business Report, based on its survey of publishers, listed five women’s magazines among the 10 most popular magazines in 2002. Currently, the most prominent women’s fashion magazines are Rayli, Trends Cosmopolitan and Elle (China), and they all rank high in terms of circulation, with more than 200,000 copies for each issue. Rayli and Trends have further developed into magazine publishing groups.

Trends Magazines, under the supervision of the National Tourism Bureau and sponsored by the China National Tourism Association, is a prominent magazine group. Its first magazine, Trends (Shi Shang), was launched in 1993 and became popular among the white-collar workers with its fashionable approach, promotion of refined living, superior quality, and high retail price. Not long after its debut, this magazine began to make rapid progress through cooperation with the International Data Group (IDG) and the Hearst Corporation, buying the rights to famous magazines such as Cosmopolitan, and adapting these magazines to fit the local market. Now, Trends Magazines Group consists of 12 magazines including Cosmopolitan, TRENDSHOME, Bazaar, CosmoGIRL!, Autostyle, and Cultural Geography. (See Figure 3.4.) The group also owns two subsidiaries in Shanghai and Shenzhen, two advertising companies, one printing plant, and one distribution company, in

addition to several joint ventures with IDG. In 2002, Trends Magazines had four magazines in the list of the 10 monthlies with the most advertising revenues as published by the China Press and Publishing Journal. Trends Magazines is known for organizing various large fashion extravaganzas, and Hearst has signed a proposal for strategic cooperation for the next 30 years.

Rayli and Elle (China) are also famous names published by the China Light Industry Press and Shanghai Translation Publishing House, respectively.

These women’s magazines share some features. First, their readers are mainly white-collar workers and people with middle to high incomes, in other words the “petty bourgeois.” Second, all of them are up market magazines produced professionally and demanding high retail prices averaging RMB20 (US$2.41). Third, they are mostly products of the cooperation between Chinese and foreign companies or joint-venture companies. Some are Chinese editions of famous foreign magazines, such as Rayli, which is a product of the cooperation between Chinese and Japanese companies. Trends is the result of Sino-American cooperation, and Elle (China) and Hong (Madame Figaro) are products of the cooperation between Chinese and French companies. Lastly, many are sister magazines. For instance, Trends has TRENDSHOME and Bazaar, and Rayli includes Rayli Women’s Glamor, Rayli Lovely Vanguards, and Hong (Madame Figaro) has Figaro Girl.

With the emergence of many new fashion magazines, market competition has intensified. It is worthy of attention that some male magazines are beginning to appear in this sector such as Trends Men’s Health and Mangazine as the industry expands.

2. Business Magazines

Business magazines are also highly market-driven. While female readers dominate the fashion magazine world, men dominate business magazine readership. Prominent magazines include Cai Jing (Finance and Economy), Shang Jie (Business World), IT CEO & CIO in Information Times, Chief Executive China, Securities Market Weekly, Global Entrepreneur, China Entrepreneur, China Marketing, Manager, Contemporary Manager, and New Fortune. Chinese editions of foreign business magazines also have attracted many readers including BusinessWeek China, Harvard Business Review (China), and Forbes (China).

A majority of business magazines are monthlies, with a small portion being biweeklies and weeklies. Their prices are generally between RMB10 and 15 (US$1.20–1.81) and the most popular have a circulation of about 100,000 copies with comparatively good ones distributing about 60,000 copies.

Cai Jing (Finance and Economy), a monthly magazine launched in 1998 by the Stock Exchange Executive Council, is the most famous and original business news magazine. It has a professional team with both veteran business reporters and new talents and has won support from China’s famous economists such as Wu Jinglian and Wang Dingding. This magazine has impressed the business world as well as that of standard news reporting with an independent and unique style, insightful and trenchant editorials, and clear and stimulating views. The Wall Street Journal commended Cai Jing as “the leading business publication in China,” and the South China Morning Post praised it as “a magazine deserving high respect.” Cai Jing has cooperated with many famous magazines of its type in the world. In 2002 it started to cooperate with Britain’s Economist to publish the Chinese edition of World (Review).

IT CEO & CIO in Information Times is similar to Cai Jing in its feature articles but its readers are mainly IT professionals. It currently has a circulation of about 110,000 copies per issue, and is published by a Sino-American joint venture, China Computer World Publishing & Servicing Company.

Shang Jie (Business World) and China Marketing boast the highest circulation among business magazines. Shang Jie is published by the Office of Restructuring Economic Systems under the Chongqing Municipal Government and prints about 350,000 to 400,000 copies per issue, with a retail price of RMB6.50 (US$0.78). It attracts readers among company managers, small and medium-sized private enterprise owners, ordinary clerks, students, and military personnel. China Marketing is published twice a month from Zhengzhou in Henan Province and prints about 250,000 copies per issue. Its readers are mainly those in the sales profession. Many famous foreign business magazines have entered into the market and are published in Chinese. The pioneer is BusinessWeek China, which is produced similarly to local Chinese magazines using a sixteen-page format and coated paper with color printing. The number of pages of each issue is 70 and retail price is RMB10 (US$1.20).

Harvard Business Review (China) and Forbes (China) are the new rising stars. Harvard Business Review (China), first started in 2003 with cooperation from the Social Science Documentation Publishing House. It contains 30% local content and is published almost simultaneously with the English edition. Its retail price is RMB70 (US$8.43), the most expensive of this type of magazine in the country, almost seven times higher than the price of many other magazines. Nevertheless, it is still preferred by many readers, and its monthly circulation already has reached 60,000 copies according to a BPA survey. This magazine also has a Chinese website ( Forbes (China) was launched in 2003 in Hong Kong with the Chinese mainland as the target market with a retail price of RMB15 (US$1.81) and now is distributed mostly free of charge. Forbes formally established a news center in Shanghai in November 2002 and sent its senior editor, Russell Flannery, to China to assist in the publication of Forbes (China), which contains about 50–80% of overseas content, with the remaining 20–50% local. Currently, the circulation goal is 75,000 copies in the three regions of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong with China National Publications Import & Export (Group) Corporation taking charge of subscription and retail sales. Now Forbes (China) continues to recruit talent in Beijing and Shanghai and in order to promote the magazine has launched a Chinese website (

3. Lifestyle Magazines

Lifestyle magazines in the Chinese mainland follow closely the style of Trends. However, they focus more on reaching out to the mass audience unlike Trends which target niche markets. In terms of professionalism, a big discrepancy exists in terms of taste and quality. These publications are not as attractively laid out as Trends magazines. Such lifestyle magazines target mainly at the working class, and based on content, can be split into two main categories: lifestyle and health, and fitness and leisure.

The popular lifestyle magazines in the Chinese mainland for lifestyle and health includes Zhi Yin (Bosom Friend), Jia Ting (Family), Nu You (Woman’s Friend), Family Doctor, MissFashion, City Life, Health, Fashion L’ Officiel, Lady, CITY, Chengshi Jufu (City Women), City Pictorial, Modern Daily Necessities, Chic, Shenghuo Zhixun (Life Information), Mum & Baby, LIFE Monthly, Beauty, Makeup, and Modeling, and China Health.

The revenues for these magazines come mainly from subscriptions. Its business strategy is to retail at a low price and to sell in large quantities. It is usually priced between RMB3.50 and RMB8.00 (US$0.42–0.96) but the sales volume can reach hundreds of thousands of copies. For instance, Zhi Yin (Bosom Friend), Jia Ting (Family), Ren Zhi Chu (The Origins of People), Family Doctor, Urban Beauties, Life, Lnyouth, Woman Life has achieved sales of 500,000 copies. Among this, Zhi Yin and Family has weekly sales of 2.23 million and 1.4 million copies, respectively. They are one of the most favored by readers and is now part of Magazines, Inc. Lifestyle magazines, such as Family, Miss Fashion, City Life, Health, Fashion L’ Officiel, and Lady also have substantially high advertising revenues of over RMB20 million (US$2.41 million).

Zhi Yin Group Corporation, or in its full name Hubei Zhiyin Periodical Publishing Group Corporation Ltd., is located in Wuhan, Hubei Province. The flagship magazine Zhi Yin was first published in 1985 as a monthly. In terms of distribution volume, Zhi Yin ranks the sixth among all magazines and the third out of commercial magazines. The Zhi Yin Group currently owns six magazines, one newspaper, five subsidiary companies, one website, and one college, with total assets of over RMB300 million and tangible assets of RMB150 million. It employs more than 280 people with sales of RMB270 million and profits of more than RMB70 million per year. Zhi Yin pays great attention to editorial content and pays its authors RMB1,000 per 1,000 Chinese characters (a high fee for the Chinese mainland). Of all magazines Zhi Yin has the honor of having the most number of stories to be republished elsewhere and also adapted for TV shows and films. The other magazines of the Zhi Yin group are Zhi Yin (Overseas edition), Business Focus, Dagong (Look For Job) Magazine, Happy Life, Fortune EQ, Liang You (GoodFriend), and its subsidiary companies cover advertising, distributing, printing, and real estate development.

The Family Periodical Group is located in Guangzhou in Guangdong Province and its first magazine, the biweekly Family, belongs to the Guangdong Women’s Federation and was first published in 1982. For several consecutive years, the group has generated profits over RMB34 million, and it owns three subsidiary magazines, Child, Elegance, and Personal Financial Management; a female professional college; and some other subsidiary companies. Nu You of Shaanxi Province also established a magazine group. Other than the flagship magazine Nu You, which has a circulation of nearly 400,000 copies, the group also publishes Nu You • Cute, Nu You • Love, and Nu You • Style. In addition, it issues Nu You • Woman Friend in Australia and New Zealand and Nu You • New You in North America.

Sports and leisure magazines have gained much popularity in recent years, and prominent magazines include Sports & Leisure, New Sports, Soccer World, Sports Vision, The World of Weiqi, Bo Sports Magazine (Striving), Yun Dong Jing Xuan (Pick of Sports), Golf, Chinese Martial Arts, The World of Ping-Pong, Fitness & Beauty, Ba Xiaoshi Yiwai (Sparetime), National Park of China, Traveler, Chinese National Geography, Deep: Scientific Exploration, Human and Nature, National Geographic Traveler (published by Trends Magazines), Direct VIP, Traveling Scope, Tourism Times, Cultural Geography, Deep: Civilization, China Aviation Tourism Guide, Tours to West China, and Tibet Tour.

These magazines can be classified into two groups. Bo Sports Magazine, Yun Dong Jing Xuan, Golf, Sports & Leisure, Chinese National Geography and Direct VIP belong to the upmarket group, with cover prices of about RMB15 (US$1.81) or higher, of which Golf is the most expensive with a list price of RMB40 (US$4.82). The rest are pop magazines with a list price of about RMB6 (US$0.72).

Chinese National Geography was first published in September 1949 in Beijing by the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and The Geographical Society of China. It is printed on imported full-color art paper, has 100 pages, different versions including simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Japanese, and English, and is retailed in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan. By September 2003, its total circulation had reached 518,000 copies (386,000 in simplified Chinese, 85,000 in traditional Chinese, and 47,000 in Japanese). The magazine publishes a version for youths and children as well as an audio-visual version. It also operates a website, (including a Japanese version), and another website for youths and children, and has organized the Geographical Society of Chinese in the World and the Chinese National Geography Foundation, while also preparing to establish a Chinese National Geography Museum. The current president of the magazine is the famous researcher Li Quanke, a scientist who once climbed Mount Everest.

C. General Interest Magazines II

1. News Magazines

In the past there were not many news magazines, and the earliest was Outlook Weekly, published by the Xinhua News Agency. With the growth of readers’ purchasing power, recent years have witnessed a boom of various weeklies, including news weeklies. Currently, prominent news magazines are Sanlian Life Weekly, New Weekly, Newsweek, Nan Feng Chuang (Southwind Through Window), Xinmin Weekly, China Comment, Outlook Weekly, Society Observation, Qing Nian Shi Xun (Youth Times), China Youth Biweekly, Oriental Outlook, Shenzhen Weekly, and Phoenix Weekly.

These magazines are mostly located in Beijing, Guangdong and Shanghai and are published by news agencies. For instance, China Comment, Outlook Weekly, and Oriental Outlook belong to Xinhua News Agency; Newsweek belongs to China News Agency; Qing Nian Shi Xun belongs to China Youth newspaper; Xinmin Weekly belongs to Wenhui-Xinmin United Press Group; and Phoenix Weekly belongs to Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV.

For distribution, while a few of these magazines depend on subscriptions through the Post Office, most of them rely on both subscriptions and retail sales. China Comment and Outlook Weekly with circulations of 3.2 million and 300,000 copies respectively, rely heavily on the Post Office distribution, and their subscribers are mostly state-owned organizations and enterprises. The circulation of China Comment ranks second amongst all magazines in the country. Other magazines focus more on retail sales including Sanlian Life Weekly, New Weekly, Newsweek, Nan Feng Chuang (Southwind ThroughWindow), Xinmin Weekly and Qing Nian Shi Xun. For advertising revenue, the magazines relying on retail sales depend more on advertising revenue. Observations of the Beijing Hui Cong Research Center show that in 2002 the news magazines such as Sanlian Life Weekly, New Weekly, Newsweek, Xinmin Weekly and China Comment all earned more than RMB10 million from advertising.

In recent years news magazines such as Nan Feng Chuang, Sanlian Life Weekly, and New Weekly have become quite well known. Nan Feng Chuang, sponsored by the Department of Publicity of the Guangzhou Municipal Party Committee of CPC and first published in 1985, attracts readers with its boldness, objectivity, and authoritativeness, and has been regarded as a “barometer of our times” and a magazine with a strong sense of responsibility. About 90% of its readers are management professionals, lawyers, doctors, teachers, public service workers, and other mainstream professionals. Sanlian Life Weekly is descended from the former Life Weekly, a magazine published by the famous news reporter and publisher Zou Taofen in the 1920s, and has attracted a large group of readers with its characteristically acute viewpoints and stimulating editorials.

Some news magazines are also published in foreign languages, such as Beijing Review (English), China Today (English), and People’s China (Japanese), all belonging to the China International Press Group Limited. With businesses focusing on publishing, printing, and distribution, the China International Press Group Limited owns five magazines, Beijing Review, China Today, China Pictorial, People’s China, and China Report in different language versions including English, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. It also operates a website with various language versions. In addition, it has seven publishing houses including the Foreign Languages Press and New World Press, one import and export company, and a large media company (China Intercontinental Communication Center), with total annual publication of nearly 1,000 titles in more than 20 languages and distribution covering more than 190 countries and regions. The China International Book Trading Cooperation, a subsidiary of the China International Press Group Limited, is the country’s second largest book import and export company. China Intercontinental Communication Center produces audio and video products (including films and TV programs) and publications in various languages, and annually distributes several hundred hours of films and TV programs as well as more than 100 book titles throughout the world.

2. Educational and Digest Magazines

Among the many general interest magazines, learning and digest magazines have also attracted many readers. Learning magazines comprise magazines focusing on general knowledge and popular science as well as youth issues, such as China Youth, Shenzhen Youth, Lnyouth, World Affairs, Globe, Speech and Eloquence, Naval & Merchant Ships, Radio, Ordnance Knowledge, Newton: Scientific World, Scientific American (Chinese edition), Science Fiction World, Nongcun Baishitong (All-Knows Magazine for the Countryside), The World of English, English Language Learning, College English, Studio Classroom, and English Square. Of these magazines, many win over readers with specialized focuses. Speech and Eloquence, published in Changchun of Jilin Province, has a circulation of more than 650,000 copies; Science Fiction World, published in Chengdu of Sichuan Province, and Ordnance Knowledge, published in Beijing, both achieve circulations of over 300,000 copies. English Language Learning and The World of English are English learning magazines published in the Chinese mainland with a comparatively long history and have exerted considerable influence, while Studio Classroom, although with a long publishing history in Taiwan, is a newcomer in the Chinese mainland and yet has already attracted a large readership.

According to existing copyright law, if writers do not specifically indicate “no republication without consent,” the articles can be republished on the condition of providing payment to the authors (note: such republication is allowed only in newspapers and magazines). Therefore, there are many digest magazines which always attract many readers. Prominent digest magazines include Du Zhe (Reader), Qingnian Wenzhai (Youth Digest), Nongmin Wenzhai (Peasant’s Digest), Overseas Digest, ESWN (East South West North), Youth Vision, and Overseas Tidings Magazine, of which Du Zhe, Qingnian Wenzhai, and Nongmin Wenzhai all have circulations of more than one million.

The most famous digest magazine in the Chinese mainland is Du Zhe, with its headquarters located in Lanzhou in Gansu Province and published by the Gansu People’s Publishing House. In 2002, Du Zhe distributed 2.7 million copies per issue, ranking fourth of all magazines in the Chinese mainland and second among commercial magazines. This magazine is published as a biweekly with a list price of RMB3 (US$0.36), and other than the flagship, other titles are produced such as Du Zhe (Rural edition), Du Zhe Collections, Du Zhe (Uyghur edition), and Du Zhe (Braille edition). By the end of 2003, their combined circulation had reached eight million copies. According to the statistics provided by the International Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP), Du Zhe globally ranked fourth in circulation only behind America’s Readers’ Digest, National Geographic and Time, and first in Asia. In August 2003, the Du Zhe magazine and Big Way Media, Inc. in America signed an agreement to publish Du Zhe (North American edition) with a list price of US$2.50 and Big Way Media will produce 5,000 copies for the first issue.

3. Literature and Art Magazines, Children’s Magazines and Pictorials

As people’s lifestyles have become more diverse, literature, art and many other cultural magazines popular in the past have begun to face a decline in circulation. In the past, every provincial writer’s association or cultural federation issued at least one, or even several literary magazines, and currently there are still several hundreds of such magazines. However, in the new market environment only a few of these magazines operate successfully and are able to attract many readers while many struggle for survival. Some find financial support from private companies, a generally adopted method among many mediocre magazines in order to keep the business running, while some try to explore new strategies or face the possibility of going out of business.

Literature magazines in the Chinese mainland can be divided into two categories: serious and pop. Currently, prominent serious literature magazines include Harvest, Dang Dai (Contemporary Time), People’s Literature, China Writer, Poetry Magazine, The Star Poetry Monthly, Play Monthly, Chinese Poetry and Verse, October, Zhongshan Literature, Da Jia (Great Master), People’s Liberation Army Literature and Art, The Selected Works of Taiwan & Hong Kong, Translations, Foreign Literature, Prose, Du Shu (Read), Essay, Panorama, Shu Wu (Book House), Fiction Monthly, Selected Stories, Journal of Selected Novelettes, Journal of Short Short Stories, and Journal of Selected Essays. Most of these magazines are monthlies or bimonthlies.

Harvest, a bimonthly magazine, is the most influential literature magazine, with a distribution volume of more than 100,000 copies per issue, the highest distribution figure of its type and a retail price of RMB12 (US$1.45). In addition, People’s Literature, China Writer & Poetry Magazine, and Selected Stories, sponsored by the China Writers’ Association, also exert a comparatively large influence. The Translations bimonthly and the Foreign Literature quarterly specialize in introducing foreign literature. Translations, published by Yilin Publishing House located in Nanjing in Jiangsu Province, provides the greatest number of contemporary foreign literary works.

Du Shu, Essay, Panorama, and Shu Wu to some degree can be considered as literature magazines but their coverage also goes beyond literature and enters into the area of social sciences and some other social aspects, with many of their articles tending towards political criticism. Of more than a dozen titles of this type in China, Du Shu is the most influential. Like SDX Weekly, Du Shu is issued by the SDX Joint Bookstore, and with the pursuit of “free thought and humanistic concern,” the magazine publishes articles brimming with the ideas and insights of contemporary Chinese intellectuals, and thus it reflects the views and thoughts of the Chinese intelligentsia. Du Shu is printed in 32 pages with a list price of RMB6 (US$0.72) and distributes about 100,000 copies, the highest of this type.

There are several dozen pop literature magazines, including Du Shu Hui (Stories), Modern and Ancient Legends, Shanhai Jing (Mountain and Sea Classics), Folk Narrations, Shanghai Stories, Gushi Dawang (King of Stories), Teahouse Tale Monthly, Foshang Literature and Art, Traditional Chinese Fiction, Martial Arts Stories, and Popular Literature Digest. These magazines focus on presenting various stories, legends, sagas and jokes, with students and readers in towns and rural areas as their target audience. The retail prices of these magazines are comparatively

low, about RMB3 (US$0.36), and the magazines are filled with vivid and interesting content and popular descriptive styles, which are often able to attract a high readership. Among these, Stories, Modern and Ancient Legends, and Shanhai Jing are the most popular.

Du Shu Hui, sponsored by the Shanghai Literature & Art General Publishing House, had a circulation of 3.5 million copies per issue in 2002, ranking first among all magazines. According to the statistics provided by the International Federation of the Periodical Press in 1998, in that year the circulation of Du Shu Hui ranked fifth of its type in the world. This magazine is printed in 32 pages with a retail price of RMB2.50 (US$0.30) making total revenue from each issue some RMB8.75 million (US$1.05 million).

Modern and Ancient Legends belongs to the Modern and Ancient Legends General Publishing House in Wuhan in Hebei Province, and enjoyed a circulation of 260,000 copies in 2002. Now the general publishing house issues several versions of Modern and Ancient Legends, including monthly, biweekly, story, romance, martial arts, and digest versions, Hubei Pictorial, and Home of Dramas, with a total distribution volume of nearly 2 million copies and annual sales of more than RMB50 million (US$6.02 million). It employs about 100 people and owns its own distribution company, advertising company, printing company, and cultural development company.

There are about 140 art magazines, covering various artistic fields. Prominent titles include Popular Cinema, Look: (Going to Movies), World Cinema, Film Literature, TV Shows, Chinese Beijing Opera, Theater Arts, Qu Yi (Variety Shows), Dancing, Music Lovers, Songs Monthly, Opera, Light Music, The Beatles, Music Trends Magazine, Comedy World, China Audio & Video, Art, Art Panorama, World Art, Sculpture, Chinese Oil Painting, Chinese Calligraphy, Chinese Photography, Portrait Photography, Chess Magazine, Collectors, The World of Art, and Foreign Literature and Art.

Many of these magazines were and are still the most authoritative magazines of their kind. For instance, PopularCinema was previously the most popular magazine among film magazines, and today the “Popular Cinema One Hundred Flowers Award” is still one of the most important film awards in the Chinese mainland. Art is the most authoritative magazine among art magazines and Qu Yi the most prominent among magazines on traditional variety shows. Nevertheless, as market competition becomes more intense, the gap between magazines of the same type narrows. For example, Look has become a new leading film magazine.

There are several hundreds various junior and children’s magazines. Such magazines with comparatively high distribution volumes are Xiaoxuesheng Daokan (Pupil’s Journal), Xiaoxuesheng Shidai (Pupil Times), Xiaoxuesheng Tiandi (Pupil’s World), Dangdai Xiaoxuesheng (Contemporary Pupil), Guangdong Di’er Ketang (Guangdong Second Classroom), Zhongxuesheng Tiandi (The World of Middle School Students), Zhongxuesheng (Middle School Students), Gushi Dawang (King of Stories), Little Friend, Xin Shaonian (New Juvenility), Juvenile Literature and Art, Little Torch, Little Star, Shaonan Shaonu (Teenagers), Juren (Giant), Zhongxue Shidai (Middle School Times), and King of Children’s Stories. Since many of these magazines are sponsored by educational departments at the provincial level and schools in the province organize subscriptions, magazines such as Pupil’s Journal, Pupil Times, and Pupil’s World, can distribute more than a million copies even without resorting to commercial distribution. Of these magazines, some have also enjoyed good sales with their excellent editorial content, such as Shaonan Shaonu (Teenagers) sponsored by the Guangdong Writers Association, which has a circulation of some 350,000 copies per issue.

More than 60 pictorial magazines cover three sectors including news, culture and entertainment, and cartoons. News pictorials include China Pictorial, Shanghai Pictorial, Nationality Pictorial, and People’s Liberation Army Pictorial; culture and entertainment pictorials include City Pictorial, World Screen Pictorial; and World Affairs Pictorial; while prominent cartoon magazines include Youmo Dashi (Humorous Master), Mickey Mouse, Manhua Dawang (Cartoon King), Picture Stories, Cartoon Monthly, China Cartoon, and Ying Er Hua Bao (Infant Pictorial). Of the three, culture and entertainment and cartoon magazines are comparatively more market-oriented. The Humorous Master, published in Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, distributes nearly 400,000 copies, the highest among cartoon magazines. Mickey Mouse, a Sino-U.S. joint venture, has a distribution volume of about 350,000, ranking first among children’s cartoon magazines.

4. Information Technology Magazines

With an increase in readership, information technology magazines have been generally treated as general interest instead of professional magazines. Currently, there are more than 100 magazines covering information technology. Prominent titles include China Computer Users, Internet Weekly, Microcomputer, PC World China, PC Magazine, Computer Fan, Chip, China Computer Magazine, PopSoft, Software Magazine, PC Shopper Weekly, Play, Ruan Jian Guang Pan (Software and CD-ROM), Financial Computer of China, NetComm World, DigiTIMES, Internet Information World, International Broadband Network, Digital Power, Computer, and Computer Master.

The popularity of the PC and the promising future of the internet industry have helped this type of magazine gain high advertising revenue, ranking behind only fashion, business, and professional magazines. According to the Beijing Hui Cong Research Center, in 2002 China Computer Users, Internet Weekly, and Microcomputer all had advertising revenue of over RMB43 million (US$5.18 million), with China Computer Users earning RMB55.8 million (US$6.72 million). These magazines are usually issued by scientific research institutes and electronics companies and they normally distribute over 100,000 copies. For example, Microcomputer distributes 300,000 copies and China Computer Magazine 150,000 copies.

About this article

Magazine Publishing in the Chinese Mainland

Updated About content Print Article