Sino-Foreign Book Copyright Trade
9 Sino-Foreign Book Copyright Trade
In the 40 years between 1949 and 1988, the majority of books translated into Chinese were Russian books published by the former U.S.S.R. However, from 1989 to the present, American works translated and published have surpassed Russian works both in book titles and print volume. In 1989, the Chinese mainland translated and published 3,472 foreign titles including reprints from 48 countries, of which 1,146 titles were from the U.S., representing 33% of the total. In the same year, the Chinese mainland printed 130 million copies of foreign books, of which 102 million copies were books from the U.S., representing 83% of the total. (See Figure 9.1.)
In 1992, China signed a bilateral intellectual property protection memorandum with the U.S. Later, the former agreed to adhere to the two main international copyright conventions. In the following two to three years, the number of acquired and translated works from the U.S. declined due to unfamiliarity with the rights licensing procedure by many Chinese publishers. Despite that fact, the total number of translation rights from the U.S. still ranks first among those from all other countries.
After 1995 the rate of acquisition of foreign rights by Chinese publishers began to accelerate. Rights acquired from the U.S. also increased by a large margin and in 1995, 423 titles were licensed from there. American works acquired by Chinese publishers increased to 2,920 titles in 1999 and to 4,544 titles in 2002. The total number of American titles licensed increased eleven-fold in seven years. (See Figure 9.2.)
In the past five years, the number of titles acquired from the U.S. each year on average accounted for 45% of the total number of rights acquired from all other parts of the world, and twice as many as the number of titles acquired from the U.K., which ranked second.
Of published titles each year, titles of U.S. origin account for 5% if we factor out titles already in the public domain. The U.S. is the most important trading partner for book copyrights since China joined the Berne Convention. With rapid economic growth in China and the increasing Sino-U.S. exchange, the number of translation rights acquired from the U.S. each year is expected to continue to grow.
2. Details of American Books
What kind of American books have publishers acquired in the past 10 years?
Chinese readers have a wide range of interests when it comes to American books and acquired titles span a wide spectrum, from current affairs, business, culture, science & technology to lifestyle. The most popular categories of U.S. books are business, fiction, computer science, language, inspirational, and children’s.
For the fiction category, despite the fact that English, French, and Russian literature all have a long history and far-reaching impact in China, American Literature has been gaining popularity among Chinese readers. Chinese readers admire Walt Whitman’s poetic imagery and boundless exuberance; Mark Twain’s humor and sarcasm; and Ernest Hemingway’s courage, valor and fortitude. They also love William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. They pay attention to the Beat Generation and also read Pearl S. Buck. Works by all above-mentioned American writers have been translated and published in China. But Ernest Hemingway is the most popular. The Old Man and the Sea published by the Shanghai Translation Publishing House has sold over 700,000 copies.
In the past decade, American novels such as The Band of Brothers, The Bridges of Madison County, The Horse Whisperer, The Silence of the Lambs, Catch-22, The Catcher in the Rye, and How Stella Got her Groove Back have all been successes. Of these, The Bridges of Madison County and The Horse Whisperer have sold over 700,000 copies. More and more American popular writers have been introduced into China. For example, Yilin Press has acquired and published many popular novels by famous commercial American writers such as Sidney Sheldon, Michael Crichton, John Grisham, and Mario Puzo.
Chinese readers also follow with great interest, different movements of American works. For example, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, a representative work of the Beat Movement, was first published in the Chinese mainland in 1962, subsequently released by Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House in 1984, and then by the Writers Publishing House in 1990. After China joined the Berne Convention, Lijiang Publishing House obtained the rights and published the authorized new edition.
The authorized Chinese edition of On the Road has 365 pages and is priced at RMB20 retail (US$2.41), which is one-fifth of Penguin U.S.A.’s 1997 trade paperback edition priced at US$12. On the Road had three print runs of 30,000 copies over eight months after its relaunch.
In recent years, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau have become popular, and all their major works have been published. Walden has been published in an elegant beautifully illustrated edition which has been very well received.
American and the Western non-fiction on current affairs, law, history, culture, and other subjects has always held an important position among foreign licensed books. In the past decade, the Chinese mainland has published The Americans: The Colonial Experience, The National Experience and The Democratic Experience by Daniel Boorstin; Founding Brothers: the Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis; A History of Western Political Thought by J. S. McClelland; The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington; World Civilizations by Philip Lee Ralph, et al.; From Dawn to Decadence, 500 Years of Western Cultural Life by Jacques Barzun; The Press and America: An Interpretive History of the Mass Media and The New Lifetime Reading Plan by Clifton Fadiman; The New York Times Scientists at Work edited by Laura Chang; John Adams by David McCullough; Steven Spielberg by John Baxter; Generation of Giants: the Story of the Jesuits in the Last Decades of the Ming Dynasty by George H. Dunne; and Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration by Bert Holldobler and Edward Osborne Wilson.
Other popular American books are the Encyclopedia Americana and The Complete Works of Albert Einstein. The Chinese mainland has also published collections of famous articles in American history: Words that Make America Great by Jerome Agel (Random House) and The American Reader by Diane Ravitch (HarperCollins).
These books have a stable readership in the Chinese mainland. Though not instant bestsellers, they are backlist titles that consistently sell, year in and year out. For example, A History of Western Political Thought is published in Chinese in the trade paperback with 870 pages and is priced at RMB68 (US$8.19). The New York Times Scientists at Work is 510 pages long and is priced at RMB48 (US$5.78). Both Chinese editions had an initial print run of 5,000 copies, but now they have sold 14,000 copies each in total, with revenues of RMB952,000 each (US$114,699). The Chinese editions of The New Lifetime Reading Plan, a 610-page-long trade paperback priced at RMB35 (US$4.22), has sold 18,000 copies with total revenues of RMB630,000 (US$75,904). Albert Einstein: Out of My Later Years has also sold 18,000 copies.
In recent years, American books on personal finance, management and self-help have gained an impressive market share with more and more Chinese publishers acquiring rights to these kinds of books. The number of titles published under these categories has increased rapidly. The favorites are The Power of Collaborative Leadership: Lessons for the Learning Organization, The Truth about Managing People...and Nothing but the Truth, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Forbes’ Picks of Management Concepts, and Sales Management. The Chinese mainland has published dozens of management books by the Harvard Business School Press. China Renmin University Press has published The Harvard Business Review on Managing People (translation) and The Harvard Business School Cases (English reprint). The Machine Press published Managing Operational Control, which contains articles by Harvard Business School professors. CITIC Publishing House has published four titles including The Tipping Point, one of the 20 most influential business books of the 20th century as selected by Forbes magazine.
Perhaps because people in China have begun to pay close attention to self-improvement, inspirational books and those on motivation, emotional help, and human interaction have become very popular in recent years. American books on these subjects have all done very well. On the non-fiction bestseller lists, these books dominated. Such American books with impressive sales in China are Who Moved My Cheese?, Jack: Straight from the Guts, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don’t, The Five Faces of Genius: the Skills to Master Ideas at Work, Only the Paranoid Survive by Andrew S. Grove, Swimming Across: A Memoir by Andrew S. Grove, and MovingForward by Henry Ford. Some of these titles have become blockbusters and have reached number one on bestseller lists. Who Moved My Cheese? sold 2 million copies, Jack: Straight from the Guts sold 800,000 copies and Rich Dad, Poor Dad sold 822,000 copies.
American children’s books, especially cartoons, also hold a good market share in the Chinese mainland. Famous comics such as Mickey Mouse, Garfield, Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Tom & Jerry, and Tarzan are all very popular. Disney’s Mickey Mouse, a biweekly Chinese version, sells 700,000 copies each month.
In recent years, American children’s literature has also caught the attention of Chinese publishers. The New Buds Publishing House in Tianjin published The International Children’s Book Award Series, which includes Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry (author) & Wesley Dennis (illustrator), The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden (author) with drawings by Garth Williams, and My Louisiana Sky by Kimberly Willis Holt. The Jieli Publishing House acquired the American author R. L. Stine’s, Goosebumps Series, and launched the series onto the children’s bestseller list, selling 2.6 million copies in China to date.
The electronics and information technology industries are growing rapidly and the U.S. is the world’s leader in these fields. Naturally, Chinese publishers have acquired many translation rights to American computer science books. The print runs of these books are large and the Chinese editions come out within two or three months of the American edition’s release. The majority of computer science books acquired by the Chinese mainland’s four computer book powerhouses are from the U.S.
For English language learning books, the majority of titles acquired or co-published have in the past come from the U.K. In recent years, the influence of American English has been increasing and publishers have begun to bring in more American-English learning books through rights licensing and co-publishing. Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press published Family Album USA and the Webster’s Dictionary ofAmerican English. The Commercial Press published Random House Webster’s College Dictionary and University Press of Science and Technology of China published The World of American Spoken English. Anhui Science and Technology Publishing House published the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Shanghai Far East Publishers published Side by Side for English language learning courses.
In sharp contrast to China’s substantial rights acquisitions from the U.S., America’s licensing from China is pathetically minimal. In the past 10 years, the U.S. acquired about a dozen books such as Ancient Chinese Architecture and Soliton Theory and Its Application. Most of these books were acquired by U.S. university presses and by scientific research institutions including the University of Hawaii Press, Yale University Press, University of California Press, and the American Mathematical Society. Some trade publishers have acquired a few controversial novels such as Shanghai Baby and Beijing Doll.
There is a long history of exchange and cooperation between British and Chinese publishers. According to Ms. Ou Hong’s research (Ou 2003), the Oxford University Press was in Shanghai as early as 1916. In 1982, the British Publishers Association and the British Cultural Council formed the first Western publishers’ delegation to visit China since its opening to the outside world in the late 1970s. Today, the U.K. is the second largest trading partner in book copyrights.
Before the 1990s, most of the copyright business between the U.K. and the Chinese mainland was conducted through Hong Kong intermediaries including the U.K. publishers’ Hong Kong offices. Since 1997, British publishers have begun to seek business in China proper on a larger scale. British publishers, booksellers and literary agents who do business directly include the Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Pearson (including Longman), Hodder Headline, BBC, Macmillan U.K., Reed Elsevier, Random House U.K., Dorling Kindersley Ltd., HarperCollins, Hodder & Stoughton, The Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd., Blackwell, Octopus Publishers Group, A&C Black Publishers Ltd., Chrysalis Books Ltd., and Andrew Nurnberg Associates. The Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Longman, Pearson, and DK have made great strides in the copyright trade and all of these publishers have established branches in the Chinese mainland. Some have even set up branch offices in several cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
Copyright trade is the most common business between British and Chinese publishers. Before China joined the Berne Convention, British books already accounted for a large percentage of foreign books published. In 1989, the Chinese mainland translated and published over 353 British books, which ranked fourth of all foreign books published. In 1995, the Chinese mainland acquired 208 U.K. titles, making U.K. second in rights licensing. The U.K. has kept the number two position in copyright trade among all countries. Between 1998 and 2002, U.K. rights licenses tripled from 594 to 1,821 titles.
In addition to copyright trade, progress has also been made in other areas of the book business. According to statistics obtained by researchers through different channels, some U.K. publishers have achieved initial successes in areas of the book trade outside rights licensing. Pearson has achieved 35%–50% growth in book exports and rights licensing to the Chinese mainland. In 2002, Pearson’s total business volume with the Chinese mainland was US$7 million. The Oxford University Press’ export sales to China have surpassed the US$2 million
mark and Blackwell’s book trade with the Chinese mainland increased by 40% in the 2001–2002 fiscal year. Its annual sales of books and periodicals is estimated at£2 million. The Design Magazine of China’s Electronic Industry launched by Reed Business Information has reached a circulation volume of 25,000 copies with an annual revenue of US$2 million (Ou 2003).
Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, The Commercial Press, Peking University Press, Higher Education Press, Shanghai Foreign Language Educational Press, World Publishing Corporation, and the Liaoning Education Publishing House have all established very close ties with U.K. publishers. Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press (FLTRP) is a typical example of the cooperation between a Chinese and British publisher. FLTRP obtained authorization from the Oxford University Press to publish a reprint of The World Classics Series, which had 80% market share of English language books between 1993 and 1995. FLTRP also launched the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English, The Cambridge English Grammar Guide, Longman English Grammar, and The Oxford Guide to English that have become the most famous English language reference books in China. FLTRP collaborated with Longman to revise New Concept English, of which they shared copyright ownership and profits. Since 1997, the revised edition of New Concept English has sold 2 million copies and 500,000 cassettes. FLTRP also has a copper statue of Louise George Alexander, the author of New Concept English, in front of the FLTRP office building.
The U.K. is the leader for licensing and co-publishing English learning books. Among all English learning books acquired from abroad, the overwhelming majority of them originate from the U.K. English language books took almost all the top spots on the bestseller lists of licensed foreign titles.
In addition to English language learning, U.K. books on politics, economics, law, history, and literature are also popular. U.K. books hold an important position both in title variety and sales volume among all licensed foreign books.
In recent years, the Chinese mainland has acquired U.K. titles on politics, law, and history such as The World War Two Series, Contemporary Thinker Series, The Cambridge Illustrated History Series, Politics by Principle, Not Interest: Towards Nondiscrimination, Politics in the Ancient World, On Civil Procedure, Form and Substance in Anglo-American Law, Introduction to Politics, The Future of International Relations, International Systems in World History, Barbarians and Civilization in International Relations, and Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century.
Some important U.K. academic works also made surprising showings in the Chinese mainland. For example, Shanghai People’s Publishing House acquired A Study of History Illustrated (one-volume edition) from the Oxford University Press. This book is in large format, 470 pages long, and priced at RMB88 (US$10.60). The Chinese edition went back to print twice in the first 16 months of its publication run with a total of 30,000 copies produced. Shanghai People’s issued another of Arnold Joseph Toynbee’s works, Mankind and Mother Earth, which is also in large format, 580 pages long and priced at RMB60 (US$7.23). It had three print runs totaling 20,000 copies within one year.
For business books, the following have been released in recent years: The Essence of Management Creativity, The Essence of Business Economics, Career, Aptitude and Selection Tests, The Murdoch Mission, Business Principles and Management, Game Theory and Economic Modeling, First Steps in Economic Indicators, Globalization, and E-Trends: Making Sense of the Electronic Communications Revolution.
In recent years, U.K. books of arts and popular sciences have also become popular. Sister Wendy’s Odyssey by BBC, and A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking have both had excellent sales with the latter selling 150,000 copies.
For U.K. children’s books, the Chinese mainland recently published The Blue Planet, Walking with Dinosaurs, Walking with Beasts, Eye Wonder, Rescue Vehicles, Ships, Cars, Jets, Planes Record Breakers, Space Tanks Trains, and A-Z of Dinosaurs. In general, U.K. children’s books, except for Harry Potter, garner a moderate share of the market.
Similar to the U.S., the U.K. acquired very few titles from the Chinese mainland. In 1999, the U.K. acquired just 20 titles, which was a record year. This is only one-fiftieth of the number of titles acquired from the U.K. in the same year.
Japan is China’s third largest trading partner in book copyrights and is an important country both as a rights licensor and a rights acquirer. Since China joined the Berne Convention, Japan has occupied the third most important position in foreign book rights trade and is also among the top three buyers of Chinese books.
According to statistics from the National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC), Japan was ranked second in 1989 and third in 1995 in terms of total number of books that Chinese firms acquired from other countries. In 1989, 629 titles were acquired from Japan with 7.5 million copies printed, this accounted for 18% of total foreign book volume. By 1995, the Chinese mainland acquired 207 titles from Japan and printed 1.06 million copies, which represented 7% of total copies of foreign books printed. In the past five years, titles acquired from Japan doubled from 454 titles in 1998 to 908 titles in 2002.
The Sino-Japanese copyright exchange started quite early and remains vibrant. Many years ago, some well-known Japanese publishers such as Kodansha and Shogakukan helped train Chinese editors. Currently, Japanese publishers active in China are Kodansha, Shogakukan, Poplar Publishing Co., Ltd., Shueisha, Gakken Co., Ltd., Iwanamisyoten, Bungei Shunju, Shufunotomo Co., Kadokawa Shoten, Shinchosha Co., Obunsha Co., Ltd., and Ohmsha Ltd. Many Japanese copyright agents such as Japan UNI Agency, Japan Foreign Rights Center, and Tohan Co., Ltd. have engaged in major copyright trade and some Japanese publishers have set up offices in China such as
Shogakukan, Shueisha, Poplar Publishing Co., Ltd., and Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. Kodansha and Shogakukan are among the most active rights licensors with Kadansha licensing 200 titles to Chinese publishers in 2003.
In 1997, NCAC hosted a Sino-Japanese copyright conference. Representatives of several dozen Chinese and Japanese publishers chartered a luxurious cruise ship on the Yangtze River. They negotiated copyright deals while enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Three Gorges.
Chinese publishers not only acquire many titles from Japan, but also acquire books in a wide variety of subjects. Among all the Japanese titles licensed to China, literature and cartoon books accounted for the largest percentage and also enjoy the largest market share. Japanese literature has a great influence and a wide readership in China. Modern Japanese writers attract much attention and Yasunari Kawabata, Inoue Yasushi, Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, Haruki Murakami, and Banana Yoshimoto are all familiar to Chinese readers. In recent years, writers such as Kenzaburo Oe, Haruki Murakami, Junichi Watanabe have developed great followings. A majority of their works have been translated and published by Chinese publishers and have sold a large number of copies with Haruki Murakami being the most popular with almost all his works enjoying brisk sales in China. In order to promote a new book, Shanghai Translation Publishing House, the authorized Chinese publisher of Haruki Murakami, used such phrases in their ads such as “Dazzling Rendezvous with …”. His seminal work Norwegian Wood sold 700,000 copies. If we include the number of copies sold before China joined the Berne Convention, total sales of Norwegian Wood in China have surpassed one million copies. In the past two years, works by Junichi Watanabe and Koji Suzuki also have become popular. The Complete Works of Junichi Watanabe published by the Culture and Arts Publishing House and South Sea Publishing House also had good sales. According to the survey by Beijing OpenBook Market Consulting Center, books by these three Japanese writers account for more than half of all Japanese novels sold.
Japan is the country of cartoons and Japanese manga is very popular in China in all its formats. Astro Boy, Elfin, RoboCat, Dragon Ball, City Hunter, Ninja Turtles, Slam Dunk, Crayon Shin Chan, and Pokemon’s Big Search have all enjoyed huge sales numbers. Pokemon’s Big Search is the latest craze and has sold more than several million copies among all its formats. (See Figure 9.7.)
According to the International Director of Kodansha, there are two new trends in China’s acquisition of Japanese copyrights. One is the acquisition of “mega” books For example, the Hebei Education Press licensed The Complete Art Works of Hirayama Ikuo in seven volumes. Each volume is priced at 8,000 yen (US$70). Petrel Press acquired UNESCOS World Heritage in 13 volumes. The other trend is the systematic acquisition of serial titles. For example, China Textile Press and China Light Industry Press have systematically acquired book series, each of which have more than 10 volumes (Jiang 2003).
In recent years, Chinese publishers active in acquiring Japanese rights include the Shanghai Translation Publishing House, Jilin Fine Arts Publishing House, China Light Industry Press, China Textile Press, Jieli Publishing House, South Sea Publishing House Culture and Arts Press, Peking University Press, China Youth Press, and Shandong Fine Arts Publishing House. Each year, the Shanghai Translation Publishing House acquires about 50–60 Japanese titles.
Unlike other countries that are pure licensors, Japan is also a major licensee of Chinese book copyrights. According to statistics by the NCAC, Japan acquired 74 Chinese titles from 1991 to 1996, representing 19% of all Chinese titles licensed overseas. Japan is the second largest acquirer of Chinese titles and if the Chinese language rights obtained by Singapore are not factored into the calculation, Japan is the largest acquirer of Chinese titles. Since 1996, Japan has always been among the top four countries in terms of acquisition of Chinese books. In the past decade, the Japanese acquisition of Chinese titles averaged 14 titles per year.
Japanese publishers are mainly interested in four major categories of Chinese books: traditional culture (including literature, history, philosophy, and traditional Chinese medicine), current politics and economics, arts (including comics), and Chinese language.
Japanese publishers acquire the most books on traditional Chinese culture, literature, history, philosophy and medicine. The licensed books on culture include Chinese Ghost Culture,
Eunuchs—Slaves on the Top of Power Tower, Forbidden Books in China, Playing Cao Cao—the Collected Works of Wu Huan, and The Suspense Cases in Three Kingdoms. The acquired Chinese books on philosophy and religion include History of Chinese Buddhism, The Series of Religious Stories—Taoism, and Chinese Secret Sects. Books on traditional Chinese health and medicine acquired by Japan include Encyclopedia of Chinese Herbal Cuisine, Chinese Folk Remedies, Introduction to San Shou, and Basic Taijiquan.
The second largest category are books on modern Chinese politics and economics, which included the Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Deng Xiaoping’s Path, Before She was Called Jiang Qing (Madam Mao), Historical Stories of the People’s Republic of China, What is the Socialist Market Economy, Economics White Paper: China’s Economic Situation and Outlook (1994–1995), Yearbook of the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (1994), and Reports on China’s National Economy and Social Development (1996).
Chinese books on traditional Chinese arts such as calligraphy, paintings, fashion, and ethnic groups have also attracted the interest of Japanese publishers. Books acquired by Japan include Folklore of Silk Road, Paintings of Qi Baishi, Dictionary of Chinese Seal Cutting, Illustrated History of Chinese Calligraphy, Women’s Fashion of the Chinese Dynasties, and Old Tianqiao of Beijing. Cartoon books acquired by Japan include Illustrated Stories of Classic Chinese Literature, Illustrated History of China, The Art of War, and Xiaoping on What is Socialism.
Despite the fact that Germany lags behind the U.S., the U.K. and Japan in rights licensing, German books and culture occupy an important position for the Chinese readers.
In China, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels are known in every household. Immanuel Kant, George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Friedrich Nietzsche are also becoming renowned. Very few Chinese literary intellectuals do not know Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s Laocoon and Brecht Bertolt. Young literature lovers may not be aware of the difference between Faust and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but they all know The Sorrows of Young Werth, Friedrich Schiller, and Heinrich Heine. Every Chinese publisher is familiar with Bertelsmann and Frankfurt, a center of book publishing.
Germany is one of the most important partners in book copyright trade. Before China joined the two international copyright conventions, the total number of titles translated from the former East and West Germany ranked sixth of all foreign titles. Since the 1990s, the number of titles acquired from Germany continues to grow. According to statistics provided by the German Book Information Center of Goethe-Institute-Peking, China translated 28 German titles in 1992 and 135 German titles in 1996, accounting for 3% of all German titles translated into other languages. China began to acquire German titles in large numbers in 1998. Since then, China (i.e. the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong) has become the largest licensee market for German publishers.
According to Germany’s Report on Book and Book Trade released in 2000, German publishers licensed 471 titles to the Chinese mainland in 1999, accounting for 8.7% of total German titles licensed in other languages (English rights licensing accounted for 7.4%, ranked second, and Dutch totaled 6.9%). Since 1999, China has become the fastest growing market for German books and since 1995, the volume of German titles has increased five-fold. (See Figure 9.9.)
The statistics from NCAC indicate that Germany is ranked fourth in rights licensing after the U.S., the U.K. and Japan.
In 1998, the Chinese mainland and Taiwan acquired 369 titles from Germany, accounting for 8.9% of all German rights licensed in other languages. Among the German titles acquired, 93 were books for children and young adults, 60 were fiction,
and 44 were history and art books. Children’s books and books on philosophy, history, medicine, and information represented a large portion of the German books licensed, while fiction only accounted for a small part of the total.
Children’s books represented a fast growing and large share of German books in recent years. China acquired 157 German children’s titles in 1999 and 177 in 2001. According to the report on German Children’s Books in China provided by Wang Xing of the German Book Information Center, 16 out of 18 of the main Chinese children’s books publishers have published German children’s books. The top three publishers are the 21st Century Publishing House, China Children Publishing House, and Zhejiang Juvenile and Children’s Books Publishing House.
Tiger Team, published by Zhejiang Juvenile and Children’s Books Publishing House, outsells all other German language children’s titles. The series in 30 volumes have sold 2.6 million copies so far. Other titles with sales over 20,000 copies include Alfred Hitchcock Die drei Fragezeichen by China Children Publishing House, Krabat, Momo, and 4½ Freunde by 21st Century Publishing House. The 21st Century Publishing House has done an excellent job in promoting German children’s books. When launching 4½ Freunde, it publicized the title in all the major news media and flew author Joachim Friedrich to Beijing from Germany for autograph and reading events.
Other influential German authors are the cartoonists Erich Schmitt, Hans Jurgen Press, and Bofinger, whose works are published under Yilin Press; and Geschichte der Wirtschaft Geschichte, whose Money Produces Money and Economic History in Stories are published under Economics Daily Press. The German children’s classics, The Complete Fairy Tales of Wilhelm Hauff and The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, are perennial bestsellers.
In general, there are comparatively few German art books published in China but some German books on performing arts are worthy of note. According to the article, “German Book Copyright Trade to China” by Tobias Voss of the International Department of the Frankfurt Book Fair, China acquired 37 German titles on performing arts in 2000 but the number in 2001 jumped to 158.
The most recently published German titles in China include business book such as Die Welt der Boerse, Der Wachstums-code fur Siegermarken, Eiufuehrung in Projektmanagement, and Grundlagen und Probleme Der Betriebswirtschaft; politics and law titles such as Methodenlehre de Rechtswiss enschaft Rechtsphilosophie, Comparing Public Sector Reform in Britain and Germany, Das Unbehagen im Kapitalismus, and Grundkurs ZPO; books on literature and biography such as Kinderdetektiv-Buero Alina und Hung, Björn und die Autoknacker, Olli, Marco und Riesenbabys Bande, Hitler’s Geheime Diplomantin, and Maerchen Monds Erben; and science and technology books such as the Injection Molding Handbook, Troubleshooting the Extrusion Process, Requirements Engineering, Overvoitage Protection of Low Voltage Systems 2nd Edition, Catalytic Membranes and Catalytic Membrane Reactors.
Although Germany is ranked fourth in China’s book copyright trade with foreign countries, the trade between Chinese and German publishers began very early and is extensive. German publishers have made achievements in some segments of the book market that are unparalleled by any other foreign country.
Research indicates that the first right acquisition contract that the Chinese mainland signed with a foreign country was with German publisher Springer-Verlag in 1980. Since then, Springer-Verlag has become the most important copyright trading partner with Chinese publishers. Rainer Justke, Rights Manager of Springer-Verlag, told the Chinese media that Springer-Verlag plans to sign 130 copyright contracts per year. Springer-Verlag’s business is multidimensional. Its newest business is the online supply of academic periodicals and electronic books through SpringerLink.
Chinese subscribers have access to as many as 500 periodicals in electronic format that cover 12 disciplines: chemistry, computer science, economics, engineering, ecology, geology, law, biology, mathematics, medicine, physics, and astronomy. Many of the periodicals offered online are Springer Verlag’s core journals. In May of 2002, the Documentary Information Center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Library of China Medical Academy became the first Chinese subscriber to SpringerLink. Now many Chinese universities subscribe to SpringerLink including 60 institutes under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Bertelsmann is another German company with a large presence. Bertelsmann’s China Book Club now has more than 1.5 million members and achieves annual sales of RMB100 million. By the end of 2003, Bertelsmann acquired 40% ownership of the 21st Century Book Chain, China’s first private national bookstore chain with 18 outlets nationwide. Bertelsmann has become the second largest shareholder of the 21st Century Book Chain. This is the first major acquisition by a foreign company in the Chinese mainland’s book trade. (See Chapter 10.)
At present, there are several dozen German publishers that have developed copyright businesses with Chinese publishers. They include Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, Bärenreiter, Comelsen, Wiley-Vch Verlag, Ravensburger Buchverlag Otto Maier GmbH, Eichbom Verlag, Deutsche Taschenbuch Verlag, Lowe Verlag, Gerstenberg Verlag, and Schott Musik International. Most of these German publishers entered the market around 1998.
According to a survey by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Copyright, Springer-Verlag, Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, Bärenreiter, Wiley-Vch Verlag, and Anel have all licensed more than 30 titles to Beijing-based publishers in 2002.
In contrast to the acquisition of German books, there are very few Chinese books acquired by Germany. According to statistics, Chinese publishers have only managed to license 80 Chinese titles to Germany, which included literary works, general interest non-fiction, and science and technology books.
Interestingly, the introduction of Chinese works to Germany started very early. According to the author’s research, German publisher Eugen Diederichs introduced Chinese writer Ku Hongming to Germany in 1911. Ku was a conservative and eccentric Chinese scholar who was fluent both in English and Chinese. Diederichs published a German language edition of Ku’s English book Oxford Movement, which was translated by Richard Wilhelm. The initial print run was 5,000 copies. The book was available both in paperback (priced at 2.5 German Marks) and hardcover (priced at 3.5 German Marks). In 1924, Diederichs published another book of Ku’s, The Spirit of the Chinese People, translated into German by Schmitz. Historical records indicate that the German edition was published under an agreement with Ku Hongming. This was perhaps the first Chinese book authorized by a Chinese author to be published by a foreign language publisher before China was a member of any international copyright conventions.
Although the scale of rights licensing between Germany and China is relatively small, the exchange between the two countries are expanding in other areas.
China and Germany maintain a relationship based on friendship and trust and feel the need for deeper understanding. According to Joachim-Groger, the German ambassador, there are 10,000 Chinese students enrolled in German universities alone. If visiting scientists and scholars and those in language schools are included, there are about 30,000 Chinese studying in Germany. In 2001, Chinese scientists won 165 research awards in Germany, ranking first among all nations in the outstanding foreign scientists program set up by Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung. More than 20 German universities offer Chinese language courses. In Berlin alone, more than 500 German students chose Chinese as their major. China plans to set up a Chinese Culture Center in Berlin, similar to the Goethe Institute.
It also needs to be pointed out is that the cooperation between Chinese and German publishers is becoming more active. Chinese publishers are the most active and the largest group of foreign participants in the Frankfurt Book Fair. By the same token, German publishers are also active participants of the Beijing International Book Fair. Since 2001, the China Book Business Report, the most important book trade publication in China, and the Goethe-Institute Beijing have jointly published German Specials during the Beijing International Book Fair. This covers all aspects of German publishing: German publishers, new German titles, the current situation, and examples of successful cases of Sino-German copyright cooperation. The Chairman of the Frankfurt Book Fair and the German Ambassador to China contributed articles to these specials. The size of the publication is unmatched by those of any other country. The German Book Center of Goethe-Institute Beijing and Ms. Cladia Kaiser in particular have done remarkable jobs in promoting publishing exchanges between the two countries. Chinese scholar Cai Hongjun has set up the Hercules Business & Culture Development GmbH in Germany to promote and license German books to Chinese publishers. The agency has operated for seven years and has secured licenses 600 German books.
The French may not know that the introduction of foreign literature in recent history started with French literature in 1898. What is more amazing is that Li Xu, who introduced the French masterpiece La Dame Aux Camélias to China was a Chinese scholar who did not know any foreign languages. Li Xu was a great master of the Chinese language and was also addicted to foreign literature. He relied on the collaboration with people who knew foreign languages to translate a large number of foreign works into Chinese.
French literature has had great influence and it is no exaggeration to claim that French literature has influenced several generations of writers and translation of French literature has produced a number of outstanding Chinese translators. The most famous Chinese translator in modern history is Fu Lei, who specialized in the translation and research of French literature.
Quite a number of French books have been translated into Chinese. There were 1,800 French titles (including re-translations) that were translated into Chinese from the end of the 19th century to March 1993. This is recorded in the Index of Chinese Editions of French Books on Social Sciences and Humanities, compiled by
the Chinese–French Cultural Relations Research Institute of Peking University and the Reference & Research Department of Beijing Library. According to other statistics by Xu Jun, a well-known Chinese scholar on French literature, more than 500 French literature works have been translated into Chinese. However, after China joined the international copyright conventions, the number of French works introduced to the Chinese mainland has substantially declined.
According to statistics of the State Copyright Bureau, French books ranked fifth among all foreign books translated into Chinese both in 1989 and in 1995. In 1989, China published 128 French books, accounting for 7% of total foreign books published. In the same year, 1.276 million copies of books with French origin were in print, accounting for 8% of all foreign books. By 1995, 165 French titles were published, accounting for 4.7% of all foreign books, and 1.603 million copies of French books were printed, accounting for only 1.3% of all foreign books. From 1998 to 2002, China acquired an average of 200 French titles per year. France has remained in the fifth position in foreign rights licensing until 2002 when it was bumped to sixth by South Korea.
According to statistics from France, China is the seventh largest country in the world in acquiring French titles and the second largest country in Asia after South Korea. Although French literature is not selling as well as it did in the past, books on literature, arts, and humanities still constitute the majority of French books. According to the French Publishers Association, literature and humanities books accounted for 80% of all French titles licensed.
In recent years, some French books published are Modern French Literature Series published by the Shanghai Translation Publishing House, Famous Modern French Novels Series published by Yilin Press, Modern French Philosophy and Culture Translation Series published by The Commercial Press, French Library published by Guangxi Normal University Press, Midnight Library published by Hunan Arts and Literature Publishing House, Duras Series published by Lijiang Publishing House, and The Completed Works of Albert Camus published by the Hebei Educational Press. Translated French literature is still much sought after. For example, Shanghai Translation Publishing House acquired the French editions of 13 works by Czech writer Milan Kundera. Each of his 13 novels sold more than 100,000 copies. The Unbearable Lightness of Being sold 250,000 copies in just six months.
The new star publisher of French literature has been the Haitian Publishing House located in Shenzhen, a coastal city in Southern China. Haitian published almost all the French bestselling and award winning novels in recent years under its Western Bestsellers Translation Series. In addition, Haitian held a French Day two years in a row and invited French writers including a Prix Goncourt winner to China for French book events. Haitian’s editor Hu Xiaoyue is the most active editor of French literature in China and is also a member of China’s French Literature Research Association.
A few French books have had brisk sales in China. Thirty titles in the French Library of Guangxi Normal University Press
have sold over 10,000 copies each. Lover and Truismes have also sold over 10,000 copies each. The Jieli Publishing House recently launched Peggy Sue et les fantômes, a French Harry Potter in three volumes. Jieli sold 40,000 sets and 120,000 single copies.
Some French publishers have done quite well in the copyright trade. Éditions Gallimard, for example, has signed 160 contracts with 30 Chinese publishers. The complete works of three famous writers and scholars Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir have been translated and published in China. Gallimard is also active in translating and publishing Chinese works into French. Gallimard has published classics by Luo Guanzhong, Shi Naian, Cao Xueqin, and works by such modern Chinese writers as Ba Jin, Lao She, Han Shaogong, and Jia Pingwa.
In general, French books and movies have had a lukewarm response in the Chinese market. They simply cannot compete with American and British books. Hu Xiaoyue believes that this is because modern French literature does not suit the tastes of Chinese readers. General interest books are also not popular with Chinese readers because of the large differences between the two countries. French books on science and technology cannot compete with American and British books. Self-help and inspirational books, which sell very well, are not favored by the free-spirited French. The French language is far less popular than the English and this makes it difficult to promote French culture. Very few people know French, let alone are familiar with outstanding French translators. Nowadays, Chinese readers have too many choices and this is why French books seem to receive little notice from Chinese audiences.
Perhaps because of China’s development, Chinese readers no longer restrict their interest to only French literature. They also want to experience French fashion and style. In contrast to the poor sales of French books in China, the Chinese language editions of French fashion magazines are very popular. Hachette Filipacchi has become an excellent magazine publishing partner in the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Hachette’s magazine joint ventures in the Chinese mainland such as Elle, Car and Driver, and Marie Claire have all become leaders in their respective categories. (See Chapter 10-B.)
Another interesting phenomenon is that some of the works written in French by some Chinese writers not only caused a sensation in France, but are also much sought after by Chinese publishers. Examples are the international bestseller Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Shijie; The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa, winner of Prix Goncourt; and Le Dit de Tianyi by François Cheng, winner of Prix Femina and Grand Prix du Roman de l’Academie Francaise. These titles have all been published in Chinese and have received a warm response.
At present, both the Chinese and French publishing communities are pushing for greater exchange. In 2000, French publishers led by the French Publishers Association formed a 13-member delegation to attend the Beijing International Book Fair. They booked a 45-square-meter booth at the Beijing International Book Fair and exhibited 600 French titles. In 2002, the Culture and Science-Technology Cooperation Department of the French Embassy to China worked with the China Book Business Report to publish French Specials. Though not as rich and vivid as the German Specials, the French Specials contained much useful information.
As France and China are jointly holding a “Culture Year” in each other’s countries from October 2003 to July 2005, this should enhance the interaction between the Chinese and French publishing communities. China was chosen as the theme country
at the French Book Fair in March 2004. It was the first time that China was chosen as a theme country at a large international book fair. The GAPP and the Information Office of the State Council jointly hosted various events at the book fair. Chinese publishers recommended 100 Chinese books to French publishers and will fund the translation and publication of these books in France. Presently, a few dozen titles have been published including modern Chinese literary works such as Les Sourires du Sage by Wang Meng, La 12 Lune and La Fleur de Blé by Tie Ning, Officier by Liu Zhenyun, and Les Sources Chaudes by A Lai.
1.The Sino-Russian Book Copyright Trade
China published numerous Russian works before the fall of the U.S.S.R. From 1949 to 1988, the U.S.S.R. was the single largest source of foreign works. The former Soviet Union also published many Chinese works. The commercial book copyright trade between China and Russia was formally started in 1993.
China joined the Berne Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention in October 1992 and Russia was a member of the Universal Copyright Convention and joined the Berne Convention in 1993. A legal foundation was thus laid for the Sino-Russian book copyright trade. In September 1992, the Copyright Agency of China signed a cooperation agreement with the Russian Copyright Association, Russia’s largest copyright agency. From then on, the copyright business between the two countries has steadily grown. By 1996, the two countries had signed about 50 copyright contracts annually, which covered 300 titles. China’s acquisition of Russian works comprises a large part of the total Sino-Russian copyright trade.
In 1989, Russia’s dominant position in Chinese translation of foreign works was eclipsed by the U.S. and Chinese translation of Russian books declined year by year. In 1989, 387 Russian books were published, accounting for 11% of all foreign books published and Russia was the third largest rights-licensing country and more than 2.27 million copies of Russian books were printed, accounting for 13% of the total foreign works. In 1995, the number of Russian books published dwindled to 139 titles, accounting for 7.2% of all foreign books. (See Figure 9.11.) Russia moved down to fourth among the largest rights licensors to China. Over 1.130 million copies of Russian books were in print, accounting for 7.4% of the total copies of foreign books. Since 1996, acquisition of Russian books fell by another 50% and Russia slipped to seventh position. In 2002, only 10 books were acquired from Russia, which further slipped to eigth position.
The majority of Russian titles acquired are literature. Owing to historical reasons, the literary works of the Soviet Union have had a profound impact. In the mid-1980s, the influence of Russian works weakened but in the mid-1990s, some Russian works found new readers. The majority of influential Russian works were by Russian authors and a few works were by writers from other countries of the former U.S.S.R.
The Russian works published include And Quiet Flows the Don by Michail Sholokhov, The Foundation Pit by Platonov Andrey Platonovich, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Afanasevich Bulgakov, The Birth of the Amgunsky Regiment and The Rout by Alexander Alexandrovich Fadeev, The Iron Flood by Alexander Seravimovich, First Joy by Konstantin Fedin, Days and Nights, and War Triology by Konstantin Simonov, The Storm and The Thaw by Ilya Ehrenburg, The Dawns Here Are Quiet by Boris Vasilyev, Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, and Gulag Archipelago by Alexsander Solzhenitsyn. Up to now, all famous Russian works that were under copyright protection have been introduced into the Chinese mainland.
A small number of Russian biographies and books on the humanities were also introduced. They include Midnight Diaries—Boris Yeltsin’s memoir, and Gorbachev: On my Country and the World.
Chinese publishers active in publishing Russian books are the People’s Literature Publishing House, Baihua Arts and Literature Publishing House, Haiyan Publishing House, Yilin Press, Haitian Publishing House, and the Shanghai Translation Publishing House. Many Russian titles were acquired through the Copyright Agency of China.
2. Sino-Korean Book Copyright Trade
Before 1999, South Korean books were not really on the radar screens of China’s book copyright trade researchers but in 1997, China acquired more South Korean than Russian titles and South Korea became the seventh largest partner in the copyright trade.
It was only recently that South Korean books caught the attention of Chinese readers. This happened when a movie tiein book called My Sassy Girl entered the Chinese market along with the TV show of the same name. Soon afterwards, Fragrant Chrysanthemum, which had sold two million copies in South Korea, was introduced.
South Korean books have entered along with Korean movies and TV shows. In 2002, South Korean TV shows became popular in the Chinese mainland and Taiwan as never before. In many areas, entire families were glued to the TV screen watching South Korean dramas unfold. Suddenly “South Korean Fever” swept across China. The same happened with South Korean computer game software and South Korean products dominated the Chinese computer game market. Since teenagers are the primary consumers of computer games, adults did not follow with much interest. Therefore, South Korean computer
games did not achieve the same unprecedented attention in China as the South Korean TV shows.
Since 1998, the number of South Korean book rights licensed has continued to grow. The Chinese mainland acquired 82 South Korean titles in 2000, 97 titles in 2001, and an unprecedented 275 titles in 2002. South Korea has overtaken France to become China’s fifth largest partner in the copyright trade. South Korean publishers that have entered into the Chinese market are YBM Sisa, Youngjin.com, Sisa Education, Jigyungsa Publishers, Woongjin Group, VISTAEM, Cyber Publishing Co., and Kyelim. The most active is YBM Sisa’s branch in Beijing—Waisi Education and Culture Co., Ltd.
Chinese publishers active in acquiring South Korean titles are mainly concentrated in Beijing, Northeast China and North China—which are all geographically close to South Korea. Beijing, Jilin, Shandong, Liaoning, and Heilongjiang are the areas with the densest accumulation of South Korean copyright acquirers. The number of Chinese publishers acquiring South Korean books has grown very fast and has reached 40 in number.
South Korean books are becoming a new force in the Chinese fiction market. Its TV and movie tie-ins, best selling fiction and serious literature have begun to enter the market on a large scale. Many South Korean writers became instant celebrities. Kim Ha-In has become a new best selling writer of romance in the style of Qiong Yao (the Chinese romance queen) and Hai Yan. Some readers regard him as South Korea’s Haruki Murakami. So far, Fragrant Chrysanthemum has sold 200,000 copies. Other influential South Korean novels are the Winter Sonata, Autumn In My Heart, and A Portrait of Witch Picture.
South Korean novels have won the hearts of Chinese readers not only because the two countries have close cultural and historical ties, but also because the young people of the two countries share similar lifestyles and values. According to Jin Chun Xian, a scholar on South Korean literature at the Central Nationalities University, the division of the Korean Peninsula led to thousands of broken families and deep hurt inspired tragic sentiments in South Korean literature but the younger generation does not share the same “sad feelings” as the older generation.
Economic development and the encroachment of Western culture have led some young South Koreans to value money over all other things. A common and current theme in literature and TV dramas is how money can come between family or love. People have also indulged themselves in watching soap operas about the life and loves of the middle class. Young South Koreans only had a faint memory of what traditional values are until suddenly, Fragrant Chrysanthemum gave them a shock. For a long time, people had not seen such pure and transcendent love and such solid family values. Fragrant Chrysanthemum awakened a national heritage buried deep in the hearts of young South Koreans. By the same token, the younger Chinese generation, who has never experienced any hardship since China’s opening to the world, found that they identified with the young South Koreans.
The Chinese mainland has also acquired children’s books, business books, design books, and computer books from South Korea. Other popular South Korean books include Mashi Maro and Never Ever Study English. The latter was launched by the World Publishing Corporation and has sold over 200,000 copies.
South Korean books recently published in China include children’s books such as Building Creativity for Children, 3D IMAGE of Solar System, 3D IMAGE of the Sea, and Searching for Seven Magic Seeds; books on politics, law and business such as Grasp the Golden Opportunity—South Korean Industry Culture and its Main Policies, The Relationship between Capital and Labor in South Korea, Economics in the Global, Intellectual and Commercial Era, and Korean Workers: The Culture and Politics of Class Formation; design books such as Hello, Remodeling, Can do!, Green House Design Book, and D.I.V.A-Digital Idol Visual Artwork; and computer books such as Flash MX Web Animation and Dreamweaver MX.
South Korea is one of the few countries that has acquired many Chinese books. In 2002, South Korea acquired the rights to 103 books from Chinese publishers, setting a new record.