Shanghai FTZ fair gives publishers new business model
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.