Book market tries to turn a new page

Updated: 2012-02-17 08:37

By Zhang Yuchen (China Daily)

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Publishers branching out but lack of translated works may spoil the plot, Zhang Yuchen in Beijing reports.

Mike Bearden has been burying his nose in books about Chinese culture and history for years. Coming from the United States, he said he was spoiled for choice.

In his native land, shoppers can easily find stores filled with works on China by English-speaking authors. Yet, since moving to Beijing four years ago, he admits he has been disappointed about what is on offer.

"I wanted to learn more about the country through firsthand accounts, and I thought there'd be more translated works of Chinese authors," said the 35-year-old businessman from Seattle. "But there aren't many available."

China's publishing authorities are looking to change that - and fast.

With decision-makers worldwide using cultural exports to boost soft power, China has initiated a "going out" policy that is aimed at taking the country's publishing industry to the next level, at home and abroad.

Along with the Confucius Institute, which is opening schools across the globe, Chinese books are already proving a big draw overseas. China was the guest of honor at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest of its kind in the world, in 1999, and will have the same honor at the London Book Fair in April.

"Eventually we came to recognize that all cultural productions carry our values," said Chen Yingming, deputy director of international exchange and cooperation at the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). "We definitely prefer to promote works that have our mainstream social values."

Book market tries to turn a new page 

Visitors take a look around an exhibition of Chinese-language books in London sponsored by China's Hanban before attending the second conference on Confucius institutes in Europe last September. Zeng Yi / Xinhua

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