Publishers aim to take Chinese literature to the world

Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:06am EDT
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By Kirsti Knolle

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - China, the world's second-biggest book market after the United States, has long been a consumer of works from other countries, now it is making a push to export its own literature abroad, helped by the e-book revolution.

Industry players at the Frankfurt Book Fair said they had observed a change in Chinese exhibitors' focus from acquiring foreign rights to selling the products of China's developing publishing sector.

With sales volumes of nearly $18 billion, China is the largest buyer of rights and licenses for books published overseas.

Now Chinese publishers, most state controlled, are jumping aboard their government's "Go Out" policy instituted in 1999 to promote Chinese investment abroad.

Beijing is encouraging publishers to develop digital content to create more competitive companies and prepare them for stock market listing. It has urged banks to provide loans and pushed for agreements with wireless operators like China Mobile to propel the digitization of publishing.

"While there has long been demand from international publishers to license works to China, there is also a huge drive underway to license titles in the opposite direction," said Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License, a digital market place for book rights.

"China is full of available titles with international appeal, and many Chinese publishers have cited selling to international publishers as their key priority."

Thanks to a rapidly growing middle class spending heavily on its children's education, publishers in China have developed a broad range of learning materials they now feel ready to sell to the world.   Continued...

A woman sorts books at a booth during preparations for the upcoming book fair in Frankfurt, October 7, 2014. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski