近日，《美国出版商周刊》刊发《Checking on theAcademic Book Market in China》《Guangxi Normal University Press Group》两篇文章。文章聚焦集团公司自成立以来的各项发展情况，对集团公司的精品图书、文化品牌运营、数字转型升级、国际化发展等方面工作做了重点介绍。
《Checking on theAcademic Book Market in China》
China’s growing influence, especially in the global economy, is going to draw attention to its domestic initiatives and development, observes chairman Zhang Yibing of Guangxi Normal University Press Group Co.,Ltd. “Chinese academia and readers will want to understand the role that China plays, and what is happening outside the country, and vice versa. Such interest will promote more research and understanding, and increase publication on wide-ranging subjects. We will see more collaboration between Chinese publishers and partners from other parts of the world for co-publishing and rights trading—and this will benefit the book industry as a whole.”
In the meantime, Zhang notices that while the number of academic books in China continues to increase, the quality and influence has not reached the level of improvement that one would expect given the amount of research and funding. “We still have a long way to go. But any research is tedious, and forming a cumulative body of research and results before it can be published takes time. The process simply cannot be rushed or we will have subpar results and publications.”
The Chinese book market for academic titles remains stable and positive, notes Zhang of GNUP, who places more emphasis on publishing essential and important titles with the potential to become classics than on sales numbers. However, his team has been putting in a lot of efforts to make serious academic titles as accessible and attractive as possible to appeal to general readers.
For now, the academic publishing industry needs to adapt to digital realities and meet the needs of readers in a timely manner. “How we assimilate, take advantage, and adopt digital publishing in different formats and to varying degrees will determine our success in the near future. But the value being delivered to the reader should be the driving force.” Zhang views digital publishing as an integral development within his publishing program, blending the old format and the new to offer value-added products. “Ultimately, it is the product that sells, and so instead of focusing on print or digital, our eyes should be on the content itself and the value it provides.”
With nearly 45,000, titles in its catalogue, and about 1,000 new ones added annually, Zhang Yibing, chairman of Guangxi Normal University Press Group(GNUP), is aware that he and his team are sitting on a treasure trove of content waiting to be transformed, (re)discovered, and monetized. “The past couple of years have seen us laying the groundwork for a digital content transformation to bring about an integrated publishing program. An ERP management system is now driving our new and more efficient production and publishing processes while the projects we marked for digital transformation are going through the paces. What we want is to create a whole digital learning ecosystem that will add value to, and blend with, our existing print products.”
By utilizing new tools such as collaborative editing platforms, the GNUPG team is working to further enhance existing content and enrich author resources. “Additionally, by using cognitive technologies and discoverability tools, we are working on personalizing content and increasing consumer engagement. With these, we want to offer adaptive online courses, micro-lectures, virtual study tours, and other new models of learning and teaching that will take advantage of the digital era that we are in.”
With textbooks, teaching materials, and academic titles (specifically in the humanities) forming the core of GNUP’s publishing program, there is definitely a lot of opportunities to dechunk, dice, and splice content to fit a new generation of learners and teachers. Then there are the group’s rare books and archival tomes spanning years of research and collection—such as the 50 volumes on the archaeological and historical findings of Dunhuang, and the 283 volume Chinese Maritime Customs Service series—that can be digitized into specialized databases for export to libraries and research institutions, or integrated into specific academic courses at local universities.
At the same time, efforts are being made to cultivate new talents that will have a better understanding of the need for hybrid print/digital publishing ecosystem. GNUPG’s parent university Guangxi Normal University, for instance, has joined hands with Lijiang College of Guangxi Normal University to jointly offer a digital publishing course. Speaking of Guangxi Normal University, it successfully launched an app(Duxiu School digital publishing teaching platform) in September 2017. The app, which makes full use of the ubiquity of mobile devices and QR codes in China to go beyond the traditional classroom, is also enhanced with artificial intelligence, Intelligent Voice,Big Data, and internet technologies to provide high-quality education content and services for education users (teachers, students, parents, schools).It now has more than 200,000 registered users and an average of 12,000 active users per month.
“Digitization affords us the opportunity to collect and preserve historical and valuable content for future generations. It also gives us the ability to repurpose existing content to meet emerging market needs,” Zhang says, adding that “the value of the content to the end user both guides and propels GNUPG’s digitization efforts.”
《Guangxi Normal University Press Group》
Leveraging GNUP’s collective strengths (of more than 30 companies and divisions) and major acquisitions to enhance company brand and influence is keeping chairman Zhang Yibing busy and energized. Several major partnerships and overseas brances have been established following the acquisitions of Australian company Images Publishing and U.K.-based ACC Publishing in 2014 and 2016, respectively.
The Arts Bridge—the brand that combines the experience, resources, and talents of Images and ACC, and supported by editorial offices in Australia, Singapore, the U.K., and the U.S.—presents an even bigger platform for GNUPG. “It gives us the opportunity, and space to promote Chinese art, artists, creativity, and design on the international stage, thereby assisting in the ‘going out’ and ‘going into’ market strategies,” Zhang explains, adding that Arts Bridge had held the “Annual Series” events at the 2017 Frankfurt and 2019 London book fairs. “We introduced to the world the exceptional arts of designer Zhu Yingchun, including his award-winning book The Language of Bugs, and selected ceramic works from Bai Ming. Now, Zhu’s book and Bai’s ceramics are, respectively, found in the British Library and British Museum permanent collections.”
The 2017 publication of Beauty of B&Bs, featuring more than 100 outstanding architectural designs, further showcased Arts Bridge’s reach in putting together an international group of editors and publishers with a shared agenda in promoting art and design.
May 2018 saw GNUP launching the first issue of Architecture China at the Venice Architecture Biennale. “This will become a quarterly journal jointly published by ACC, Images, and GNUP, and edited by Li Xiangning, deputy dean and professor of architecture and urban planning at Tongji University,” says Zhang, whose academic publishing program, predominantly steeped in history and culture, has continued to produce outstanding titles.
Pivots: 3,000 Years of China, for instance, was launched during a popular talkshow and sold more than 50,000 copies within 48 hours. “Its current sales of 280,000 copies are indicative of an audience curious to know the changes within China of the old and new, and its current position in the world stage,” says Zhang, whose team also published Wu Gou’s Elegant Song: The Visible Civilization, which narrates the elegant life during the Song dynasty; the book won the 2018 China Best Book award and has sold 80,000 copies.
Then there are The City of Shadows: Liang Sicheng and Guanghan in 1939/1941, which spotlights Chinese historical sites and cultural heritage, and translations of Bob Dylan’s The Lyrics: 1961–2012 and David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. These are all typical good book of the GNUP.
Recent years have seen a surge in collaborations between GNUPG and participants in China’s Belt-and-Road initiative. “Our group has invested nearly 10 million CNY in 20 publishing programs to foster cultural and information exchanges,” says Zhang, naming Oriental Wisdom as one of the programs. The 100-plus series with key Chinese classics will be initially translated into eight languages (Burmese, Cambodian, English, Indonesian, Lao, Malay, Thai, and Vietnamese). Other titles include one on King Sulu’s visit to China 600 years ago (that explores the historical friendship between the Chinese and Philippine people), , a cultural tourist series on Maritime Silk Road. And a series on Hepu County (where heritage sites indicated a major ancient trading hub)
“Chinese publishers, including GNUPG, have copublishing and rights trading with the West going back several decades. The same, however, cannot be said about our exchanges with neighboring countries—and we are going to ride on the Belt-and-Road initiative to rectify this,” says Zhang, reiterating that “sharing knowledge while exploring different perspectives is what publishing is all about—and it transcends culture, history, language, and geographical barriers.”
《Checking on theAcademic Book Market in China》
《Guangxi Normal University Press Group》