10 trends in China’s digital publishing

The 8th China (Shenzhen) International Cultural Industries Fair (ICIF) was held in Southern China’s Guangdong Province on May 18-21, 2012. According to its official website, the ICIF is ” the only national-level, internationalized and integrated cultural industries fair in China”, designed to be the “best platform for the exchange and cooperation between Chinese and foreign cultures”.

The ICIF 2012 attracted the attention of a wide range of media. Among the numerous reports, reviews and comments on the event, an interesting article emerged and has gone viral on the Internet of the Chinese world. Titled “10 trends in China’s digital publishing“, the article begins by describing China’s digital publishing industry as having entered the phase of “vigorous growth”. It then lists 10 major trends:

Trend 1: Digital reading is increasingly accepted as a new reading method. Presently there are nearly 30 million digital readers in China. Reading on mobile phone has become the most popular reading method in this Internet age, and will surely become a major trend in the future.

Trend 2: Third-generation (3G) mobile telecommunication services are a contributing factor to promoting digital reading. 3G mobile phones enable readers to search and find the books they like, and to further consume, share and comment on these books via the Internet.

Trend 3: Digital reading becomes interactive and seamless. Here, China Telecom’s Tianyi brand is heavily featured. Roughly translated as “Sky Wing”, Tianyi “provides the mobile Internet applications and convenient voice service at every place while considering the greater demands of voice and data integrated services from the middle and high-end customers, family and individual customers” (see China Telecom’s official website). In a nutshell, the service allows readers to apply for a free account that enables them to download and consume digital content on their mobile phones, desktop and tablet computers and TVs, i.e. the “three screens”.

Trend 4: The audio book market is growing. Again the Tianyi brand is heavily promoted, as it allows readers to listen to digital content via their mobile and fixed phones and through the speakers in their cars.

Trend 5: Cross-media publishing becomes a fashion. Many Chinese authors are now publishing both in print and online. An increasing number of traditional publishers are working with digital media groups to provide readers with more content.

Trend 6: Reading by mobile phone contributes to the promotion of digital rights. In order to protect the intellectual property rights of authors, and to safeguard the rights of readers to receive quality digital content, certified/registered reading is becoming increasingly popular. “Digital reading, green reading, quality reading” as a phrase has been coined to encourage readers to pay for genuine digital content.

Trend 7: Reading becomes diversified. An increasing variety of digital content is provided, from novels to comic books and magazines.

Trend 8: Newspapers become digitized. Many newspapers are now publishing both in print and online.

Trend 9: Cyberspace and reality are merging. Many famous authors are meeting their Internet fans around China, signing and selling books and answering all sorts of questions. This is considered a special “reading” experience that much enhances the Chinese people’s cultural life.

Trend 10: Focus on readers from farming villages and/or rural regions. The 8th annual survey on the Chinese people’s reading habits showed that in 2010, 77.1 percent of those readers between the ages of 18 and 70 were reading on their mobile phones. Among them, 52 percent were from farming villages and/or rural regions. Indeed, in recent years, China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) has been working hard to enhance the “informatization” of its country people.

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