Readers sink their teeth into A Bite of China

Updated: 2012-06-26 13:05

By Mei Jia (China Daily)

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The popular TV documentary series A Bite of China has gone into print.

A full-color book with the same title was recently released in Beijing.

Its publishers, Guangming Daily Press and Beijing Fonghong Books, won the competition among more than 200 publishers that have been pursuing the opportunity to publish a book about the series since it was broadcast on CCTV in May.

Li Pan, the anchorwoman of a CCTV reading program, says even her phone has been busy with publishers seeking to contact the documentary's producers to publish a book.

Guangming Daily Press director Zhu Qing says it took a month of continuous attempts to win the rights. The company released the book within a month of getting them.

"We decided to act quickly to satisfy the market's thirst for extended reading," Zhu says.

The publisher had pre-sold 200,000 copies before the launch.

Readers sink their teeth into A Bite of China

Li Guoqing, CEO of the online bookseller Dangdang, says he believes the book will exceed 1 million sales. He says the documentary's DVD version has comprised one-third of Dang-dang's recent sales.

"It's rare to see the publishing industry so excited about one project," book critic Lu Jun says.

"It shows how well the topic was received by the public because it reflects their daily lives and tastes, and the cultural background we all share."

The book has seven chapters - one for each installment of the TV series. It also includes maps, analyses of 30 traditional food varieties and information about nutrition, preparation and origins. The book also features 16 essays by acclaimed writers, who describe their personal relationships with particular foods. The 600 color photos also make it a feast for the eye.

"The book complements the TV series with its additional information," CCTV director Hu Zhanfan says. "It keeps the series' focus on people stories."

Many critics say the book serves as an inspiring example for publishers to engage in cross-media cooperation.

Li Zhanjun, general manager of Beijing Publishing and Distribution Group, which owns large brick-and-mortar bookstores in Beijing, is excited by the publication and says the book came as a surprise.

Dangdang's Li says the book will bridge his generation and that of his children, who've grown up and lived in the United States, because it's a "carrier of culture across generations".

The publisher is working on translations to publish the multilingual version that will be launched at the upcoming Beijing International Book Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair.