The Chinese digital publishing industry is on the rise. Newspapers, magazines, comics and eBooks garnered 42 billion USD in 2012. This is a massive figure, but it only really accounted for 11.6% of the entire publishing industry. Chinese digital publishing has really grown up over the last two years with more companies focusing on smartphone delivery. New research has proclaimed that by the end of 2014, digital publishing will be valued at over 56 billion.
The Chinese digital publishing industry is targeting smartphones in a big way. There is currently 700 million active phones running Android, Windows or iOS. This is prompting creative deals such as Xiamen Bluebird Cartoon Co. partnering with Trajectory to adopt its popular TV series Xingxing Fox and Close to the Great Society into digital books for children.
One of the largest digital publishing websites is run by Cloudary, a website dedicated to contemporary Chinese literature. They provide a wide range of digital services, such as online eBook delivery and they also manage six online reading and writing communities, with a user popular of 1.6 million members.
The thing I really like about the Chinese publishing industry is how innovative they are when compared to the way the North American scene is run. One of China’s oldest publishing houses, Zhonghua Book Co, entered the world of multimedia publishing by instigating a poetry contest that targeted mobile phone users.
The format was simple: Applicants simply had to compose an ode using the rigid formulas of classical Chinese poetry and send the resulting poem to Zhonghua via a text message. Over a period of four months, 43 million aspiring poets texted their work, either as original content for the competition or as messages to friends, who in turn forwarded the poem to other recipients. By the end of the competition, the number of posts and reposts on mobile devices totaled 129 million, a huge number given that Zhonghua’s biggest-selling physical book, Thoughts on the Analects of Confucius sold 320,000 copies.
There are thousands of startups tackling app development, new content delivery methods and cool ways to appeal to the mobile reader. All of this innovation is occurring due to Amazon, Apple and Google entering the market and fostering innovation. This is ruffling some political feathers, which prompted the Chinese Central Government to issue a series of guidelines to help traditional publishing enter the digital world and offered financial assistance to make it happen.
China has a very deep rooted publishing industry and many are resistant about going digital. The average customer does not have a Android, Apple or iOS smartphone due to the costs and still rely on tangible books. The lack of technology is certainly the largest barrier, preventing the industry from reaching new heights. Still, 56 billion US is a ton of money and it is showing that customers are firmly embracing a wide array of media content and publishers are being savvy.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.