Coming to a screen near you

Updated: 2013-07-11 07:11

By Zhang Yuchen (China Daily)

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Publicity boost

However, rather than hard cash, the publicity boost for Zhonghua's traditional publications was the most valuable thing to emerge from the competition, according to Bao. Meanwhile, the lessons learned from cooperating with local governments and technological partners could prove invaluable as the company looks to the future.

Zhonghua is just one of a group of traditional publishers attempting to carve out a niche in the multimedia world, but they are finding the going tough.

In the past three years, the income brought in by digital products has accounted for less than 10 percent of the annual revenue of the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

That disparity stems from a lack of familiarity with operating methods in the world of digital publishing. "No one in the publishing world knows how to benefit from it (digital publishing) in terms of finances and branding," said Li Hongfei, the director of the language press' digital department.

"We may have good ideas, but without obvious signs of return publishing houses are reluctant to invest their money in a digital arm. All in all, the major businesses are still focusing on traditional paper productions."

Li's comment echoed a quip made by the language press' Deputy President, Xie Wenhui: "Doing nothing in the multimedia world means we are just sitting still and waiting to die, but taking action in the market could mean we die more quickly."

However, Lin Hua, deputy president of Cloudary, the biggest online hub for contemporary Chinese literature, said at the StoryDrive China forum organized by the Frankfurt Academy in May that online content can be a money spinner, especially if marketed correctly across a range of formats.

For example, the novel If You are the One by Fu Rong San Bian, one of Cloudary's biggest sellers, became one of the most successful examples of the transmedia trend when it was later made into a movie by the Chinese director Feng Xiaogang.