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Chapter and verse

By Mei Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-08 07:46
A reader browses through books on a shelf at Wangfujing Bookstore in Beijing on Sept 27, including Xi Jinping: The Governance of China and Xi Jinping's Seven Years as an Educated Youth.?[Photo by WANG JING/China Daily]

Chinese publishing has come a long way in the past 70 years, Mei Jia reports.

Hu Kaimin, chief editor of the Foreign Languages Press, uses a "seven books" theory to summarize the publisher's achievements in presenting Chinese titles to global readers over the past 70 years.

The seven titles, each representing a decade, range from multilingual versions of late chairman Mao Zedong's collections in the 1960s to Chinese classics such as A Dream of Red Mansions in the 1970s, the Culture and Civilization of China series in the 1990s and the two-volume book, Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, sold in 32 editions in 28 languages so far.

"For the Xi book, we tried to launch both the Chinese and English versions almost simultaneously, closely followed by versions in languages recognized by the United Nations," Hu tells China Daily in his Beijing office. "We only managed to achieve this because of the progress Chinese publishing has made."

The company with perhaps the longest tradition of publishing and distributing Chinese books in the global market, China International Publishing Group, of which the Foreign Languages Press is a part, was set up in 1949, the same year the People's Republic of China was founded. It shows how, through continued effort, influential publishing has become in a country that has a long history of books.

According to officials from the General Administration of Press and Publication in 2011, in terms of volume and variety, China took the global lead in book and newspaper publishing in 2010, ranked second in digital publishing and third in printing based on total production value.

Fan Jun, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication, wrote in an article in Publishing Research that by 1956, China had 97 publishers, and published 129,000 titles in total in the seven years since 1950. The number of publishers by 2018, according to the National Press and Publication Administration's annual report released in August, was 585. They published 519,250 titles last year, including 247,108 new and 272,142 reprints.

And, it's not just about numbers.

Global recognition-the Nobel Prize for Mo Yan, the Hugo Award for Liu Cixin and the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing for Cao Wenxuan-reflects the rise of original storytelling in China.

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