Exploring Chinese publishing

Next week publishers across London will be flocking to Earl’s Court to attend the London Book Fair. Each year the LBF chooses a country for its ‘Market Focus‘ programme, with the aim of establishing international publishing links. This year the chosen market is China.

Until I did a little reading, I have to say that my knowledge of Chinese publishing was fairly non-existent. It turns out that the country has an interesting publishing history, particularly as all literary material was previously produced by the state, and private publishing houses were illegal. This has of course changed now, but the history of censorship adds an interesting side to the Chinese market. And another, more modern, aspect of Chinese publishing which caught my eye was the popularity of internet ‘pay-per-view’ literature. Users pay very small amounts for each portion of a book, but the profits can often be great for the author. But as with the UK market, there is the question over whether these digital methods (often self-published) can coexist with the more traditional publishing houses.

So after realising both the unique features of the Chinese market and the things it has in common with the UK industry, I’ll definitely be paying attention to China at this year’s London Book Fair. And it’s a shame that I can’t think of any Chinese-authored books – does anyone have any recommendations for Chinese literature?

Sara Magness, Editorial Administrator

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