Thoughts on Children's Books and Publishing in China

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Besides doing a lot of sightseeing and eating during my week in China, I spent a significant amount of time thinking about books. We were welcomed to Hangzhou by executives and editors at the Zhejiang Juvenile and Children's Publishing House, the Zhejiang University Press, and the Zhejian Sinour Industry Co, an import/export organization. I also spent hours wandering bookstores inb oth Hangzhou and Shanghai.

Children's Book publishing has it pretty good in China: it's a growing segment of the industry, and there's somewhat less government oversight (read: censorship) regarding book content. However, it is still essentially a nationalized industry, and the government still owns all publishing companies, though they are run individually.

Additionally, publishers cannot sell their books abroad; that's where the import/export company comes in. They distribute books to other countries, and they are also authorized to import books for sale in local stores. Thus, if we wanted to sell a U.S. edition of one of our books, we could not directly contact and sell to the bookstores (most of which are also government run). We would need to work with the import company to distribute our books to the stores.

It's all much more beauraucratic and complicated than we're used to, and it means that meeting with and developing a relationship with these companies is a huge step in working with the book industry in China. And companies in China are now open to working with us. Just a few short years ago, the possibility of partnerships with foreign companies was unthinkable; now it's even encouraged.

There isn't a huge market for U.S. book imports in China right now-- but interest in learning English is growing there, just as interest in learning Chinese is growing here in the U.S.. Right now we're doing what we can-- we have bought the English translation rights to a set of story books, and we're talking with the importers about what they need and what they can move. It's still early in the game of book and information flow between our two countries, but it's an interesting market to keep an eye on, and the door open.


Wow- what great information. It's interesting to learn how things are handled in other countries--especially how the government still owns all publishing companies, though they are run individually.

Thanks for sharing.

All the best,

Thanks for sharing that information. I know that when we had Wee Ones Children's Magazine open for business, I received several requests from Chinese teachers/editors to buy our material so they could use them to teach ESL classes. I imagine the publishing industry in China ( and what about Japan) could be huge.

Sounds like you had a great trip!


Hi Renee

I thought that your post was very informative. Thank you for the insight. IZIZA is a small publishing company in South Africa. We have published a fantasy fiction novel called "Jade and the Serpent's Circle" for teens in August. It is set in the Cradle of Humankind and is about reverse human evolution. We believe the book will do well in China for a few reasons; it is English, was written by using International Innovative thinking methods (reverse of assumotions), linked to World heritage, Africa, crystals and precious stones - in particular Jade, Agate and Amber... etc. for more info,

We are interested to export the book for distribution in China. Would you know of reputable distributors that would be interested? What are the pitfalls? We have no experience in exporting to China...

Will really appreciate your input.

Maggie, that's a big question! Why don't you contact me directly via email or the contact form (the link is above), and I can get back to you with the info I know.

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Renee Ting is the President and Publisher of Shen's Books. She is the author of The Prince's Diary and the blog, Renee's Book of the Day.

Emily Jiang is a writer of children's and YA literature. She also blogs at TLeaf Readings.

Shen’s Books is a publisher of multicultural children’s literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia.

Through books, we can share a world a stories, building greater understanding and tolerance within our increasingly diverse communities as well as throughout our continuously shrinking globe.


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