PublishDrive signed a contract with retail giant DangDang, often dubbed as ‘the Chinese Amazon’. To celebrate this partnership, here is our analysis of the Chinese book market. We are grateful for the data shared by German Book Office Beijing, information shared with us by our new partner store, and other sources credited below.
With almost 1.4 billion people, China is the biggest market in the world. Its power and influence have for a long time been disregarded by Western publishers. However, more and more people discover the Chinese market and the possibilities of publishing in China could bring them. This article is aiming to provide an overview of the Chinese book market, analyze the trends and discover some opportunities that could benefit authors and publishers.
As summarised in Foreword Reviews, China’s population is not only the largest of the world but is undergoing major changes. These changes make it even more attractive. Sociological trends, just as the fast-growing urbanization and the strong economy result in a strong and educated middle class. These people are eager for Western titles but also cultivated in Chinese literature. The recent abandonment of the one-child policy is expected to further boom the population. The sociological findings are also supported by numbers, as can be seen in the next paragraph. To sum up, these socioeconomic changes make China one of the most sought-after markets today.
Chinese book market in numbers
Although the Chinese book market is usually quite secretive when it comes to its numbers, valuable fresh data has been provided for last year’s Beijing Book Fair. OpenBooks, the Chinese equivalent of Nielsen BookScan has released some current numbers. They estimate the total volume of the book market to be between 20 and 23 billion USD in 2016. The total turnover is increasing by an average of 0.3% yearly. Online book sales have accounted for 45% of total industry turnover (GBOB, Chinese Book Market Data (2017)).
According to data by Chinese Academy of Press and Publication, 58.4% percent of the population regularly reads books. This amounts to around 812 million people altogether. Increasing the percentage of readers is part of the state agenda. The Chinese People’s Government is promoting reading with nationwide campaigns, reaching up to 800 million people at a time.
The three most important distributors are DangDang, Amazon China, and JD. All three of them are committed to offering a safe and protected environment not only to their readers but to their publishers. They are using different kinds of DRM technologies and offering books through different channels and on different devices to fight ebook piracy.