Shang­hai FTZ fair gives pub­lish­ers new busi­ness model

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By LI YANG in Shang­hai

Book fairs in Shang­hai’s Free Trade Zone’s bonded area save money for for­eign pub­lish­ers and Chi­nese buy­ers. And such events also serve as a new busi­ness model for Chi­nese pub­lish­ers.

Times In­ter­na­tional Pub­li­ca­tion & Me­dia (Shang­hai) Co Ltd (TIPM) and China Na­tional Science-Tech­nol­ogy In­for­ma­tion Im­port and Ex­port Corp co-spon­sored the first bonded-book ex­hi­bi­tion in the FTZ on Tues­day.

The two-day event at­tracted rep­re­sen­ta­tives of nearly 100 key pub­lish­ing houses, univer­sity li­braries and book deal­ers from China and 20 for­eign pub­lish­ers, in­clud­ing the Cam­bridge Univer­sity Press, Ox­ford Univer­sity Press and Macmil­lan Pub­lish­ers Ltd.

The for­eign pub­lish­ing houses brought with them their 15,000 books pub­lished this year on physics, chem­istry, medicine, law, man­age­ment, lan­guage, the arts and lit­er­a­ture.

Chi­nese at­ten­dees were busy scan­ning the bar codes of the books they wanted to im­port with a hand­held scan­ner con­nected to their own data­base to match the books’ in­for­ma­tion with their own needs and stock.

“I think the new books are of high qual­ity and re­flect new de­vel­op­ments in their re­spec­tive fields in the de­vel­oped coun­tries,” said a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Zhengzhou Univer­sity’s li­brary.

“The key uni­ver­si­ties in Shang­hai have more for­eign-lan­guage books than us. We re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the faceto-face con­tact with for­eign pub­lish­ers and the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend the book fair where we can look for books di­rectly,” he added.

China Na­tional Pub­li­ca­tions Im­port & Ex­port Cor­po­ra­tion (CNPIEC) has been the main agent for book trade be­tween China and for­eign coun­tries.

CNPIEC buys sam­ple books ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion it col­lects. How­ever, the buy­ers of those books may not nec­es­sar­ily like the ones that CNPIEC sends to them and refuse to im­port them. CNPIEC has to op­er­ate a big ware­house to store the sam­ple books not wanted by buy­ers.

“Usu­ally, it is more ex­pen­sive to re­turn the books to their for­eign pub­lish­ers. So what we are do­ing is a win-win so­lu­tion for both the sell­ers and the buy­ers,” said Ge Man, spokes­woman for TIPM.

The for­eign pub­lish­ers don’t have to pay cus­toms du­ties for the ex­hi­bi­tion books in the bonded area in the Shang­hai FTZ.

“We re­gard the book fair as a new busi­ness model, thanks to the spe­cial pol­icy of FTZ and the ro­bust and in­creas­ingly higher read­ing de­mand of Chi­nese,” Ge said. “Small buy­ers in China and small for­eign pub­lish­ers can also make use of our plat­form to buy books and es­tab­lish their pres­ence.”

Ge said were it not for TIPM’s good re­la­tions with buy­ers and pub­lish­ers, it would be im­pos­si­ble to hold such an event. “As the scale be­comes larger in the fu­ture, we will take more com­mis­sions from the deals inked in the event,” Ge said.

“The Chi­nese mar­ket is very im­por­tant for us. And we are co­op­er­at­ing with Chi­nese pub­lish­ers to do busi­ness, though we hope the Chi­nese govern­ment can grant for­eign pub­lish­ers more free­dom to op­er­ate in­de­pen­dently,” said Martin Jack, a sales man­ager of Tay­lor & Fran­cis Asia Pa­cific.

He noted that so far the Shang­hai FTZ has not de­vel­oped any con­crete changes in lift­ing con­trols for for­eign pub­lish­ing houses, in spite of the cen­tral govern­ment’s spe­cial at­ten­tion to cul­tural in­dus­try.

TIPM, the first pub­lish­ing house in the Shang­hai FTZ, also ex­hib­ited 300 new books for for­eign read­ers at the fair, and ne­go­ti­ated with Ja­panese pub­lisher Ko­dan­sha In­ter­na­tional, Tay­lor & Fran­cis Group, SAGA Pub­li­ca­tions, and John Wi­ley & Sons Inc about copy­right trade.

E-books were another pop­u­lar topic at the book fair.

Chen Jin, chief li­brar­ian of Shang­hai Jiao­tong Univer­sity Li­brary, said: “Help­ing stu­dents to bor­row and re­turn books only ac­counts for 5 per­cent of our work­load now. Tak­ing care of e-books and the sys­tem sup­port­ing the most ef­fi­cient shar­ing of the new for­mat of books is our may job now.”

Ge Man said: “The trade of e-books will be more con­ve­nient in the fu­ture if the govern­ment can re­form the sys­tem. But the pa­per-printed books still have their mar­ket.”

“In­for­ma­tion is dif­fer­ent from knowl­edge. I do not be­lieve books will die out,” Martin Jack said.

Many vis­i­tors said it was a pity that China could not ex­port new books on a large scale. The lack of qual­i­fied trans­la­tors is a big ob­sta­cle in get­ting Chi­nese books to the global mar­ket.

TIPM’s book fair is held in the bonded area of Shang­hai Free Trade Zone from July 20 to 30 in Shang­hai.

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