Distributing Your Books in Chinese in Digital and Print Formats in Taiwan and Beyond (#Taiwan #Chinese #Books #eBooks #Writing #Publishing #Translation)

 

Blogger’s Note: Below is a report submitted to Writers Victoria, a renowned literary organisation supporting and connecting all types of writers at all stages of their writing careers in Victoria and other states across Australia. Hopefully, the report will be useful to emerging and established English-language authors, literary agents and publishers in other parts of the world.

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Distributing Chinese-Language Editions of Books by Australian Authors in Digital and Print Formats in Taiwan and Beyond: A Report

By Christine Yunn-Yu Sun

Supported by a Neilma Sidney Literary Travel Fund via Writers Victoria and Myer Foundation, I visited Taiwan in January 2019 to develop a framework for, and feasibility study of, distributing Chinese-language editions of books by Australian authors in print and digital formats in Taiwan and beyond.

Born in Taiwan and now based in Melbourne, I am a bilingual writer, translator, reader, reviewer, occasional journalist and independent scholar. I also work as a publisher of digital and print books in English and Chinese languages. I assist emerging and established English-language authors, literary agents and publishers to translate, publish and promote their titles to the Chinese World, while helping Chinese-language writers promote their writings to the English World.

A recipient of Victoria’s Multicultural Award for Excellence – Victorian Multicultural Marketing Award in 2015, my work demonstrates there are strong interests among Australia’s traditionally and independently published authors in engaging the Chinese World, which includes China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Chinese communities across the globe. In particular, as gateway to the Greater China, Taiwan, with a population of 24 million, is well known in the west as a vibrant, liberal and prolific publishing environment, outstanding in the quality, diversity and affordability of its digital and print books. Numerous international authors from a wide range of linguistic backgrounds have found success in the Chinese World after being embraced by readers in Taiwan.

With this fact-finding trip, my primary goal was to connect with major distribution platforms of digital and print books in Taiwan, and to promote the Chinese-language editions of books by those Australian authors that I have had the privilege to work with since June 2012. I also wanted to investigate the best ways in which these distribution platforms can help promote these and other Australian authors to other parts of the Chinese World.

Christine at the National Palace Museum Exhibition “Books in the Palm of Your Hand”, Taipei, Taiwan, January 2019. The large character means “Book” in Traditional Chinese.

Between January 9 and 21, 2019, I met with representatives of four leaders of Taiwan’s book publishing and distribution industry. In no particular order:

Meeting representatives of HyWeb Technology Co. Ltd, Taipei, Taiwan, Januar 2019. Left to right: Steve Goschnick (Managing Director, Solid Software Pty Ltd, for which Christine works as Research Officer and Manager of the imprint eBook Dynasty), Christine, Yvonne Yu (Business Manager, HyWeb), and Sandra Yo (Rights Manager, HyWeb).

HyWeb Technology Co. Ltd – A professional distributor of digital books since 2010, HyWeb currently supplies to more than 700 libraries in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and North America, including those operated by central and local government agencies, all levels of schools, business corporations and private enterprises, etc. Via their ebook platform HyRead, HyWeb works with publishers to produce high-quality ebooks in epub and pdf formats that can be purchased or hired by both libraries and individual readers. This is a valuable resource for Australian libraries to explore, on top of existing suppliers based in China and Hong Kong.

Readmoo’s logo. As of the writing of this report, Christine is still kicking herself for forgetting to take a photo while meeting with Lesley Ho, representative of Readmoo.

Readmoo – Established in February 2012, Readmoo is currently the largest and most prestigious ebook distribution platform in Taiwan. As of the end of 2019, it distributed approximately 110,000 digital titles in fixed and flexible epub formats (including books and magazines) provided by more than 300 publishers in Taiwan and beyond. It is highly beneficial for Australian authors and publishers to establish a collaborative relationship with Readmoo, for three reasons. First, the platform allows authors and publishers to upload their digital titles in epub format for free, which will then be distributed not only through Readmoo but also via Google Play Books and Apple’s iBooks. Secondly, a platform catering for readers of digital books and magazines, Readmoo’s considerable number of readers are already familiar with the many advantages of digital reading. Most importantly, Readmoo is not only a major ebook distribution platform, but also a well-respected supporter for reading, writing, publishing and literary criticism in Taiwan. This includes constant and continuous promotion of local and international authors, and frequent coverage of major literary trends and achievements across the world.

Meeting representatives of Elephant White, Taichung City, Taiwan, January 2019. Left to right: Miss Hong and Mr Chen (EW), Water Chang (Chief Operating Officer, EW), Christine, Steve Goschnick, and Bo-Ya Chuang (Marketing Officer, EW)

Elephant White – Elephant White Cultural Enterprise Co. Ltd is the most prominent print-on-demand (POD) service provider in Taiwan. Similar to Amazon’s CreateSpace and Ingram Content Group’s IngramSpark in the English World, Elephant White distributes print books to wholesalers and retailers across the Chinese World, covering both online and brick-and-mortar bookstores. However, unlike CreateSpace and IngramSpark where authors have to manage the publishing and promotion processes themselves, Elephant White provides professional guidance in all aspects of book publishing and promotion, keeping authors accompanied and informed every step of the way. It is more like a traditional publisher that opens its door to independent authors, without any “vanity publishing” flavour or self-inflicted pressure to pursue profit. Presently, Elephant is capable of distributing print books to more than 2,000 brick-and-mortar bookstores in Taiwan and beyond, including the most prominent Kingstone and Eslite, each of which boasts more than 40 branches. The recommended initial print run is 300 copies. Elephant White also distributes to a diverse range of online bookstores, with the most prominent example being Books.com.tw, which boasts service centres in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and Singapore, where readers can pick up their purchased print books from local 7-Eleven stores. Although Books.com.tw is banned in China, it is embraced and trusted by Chinese-language readers across the globe.

Meeting represnetatives of Taiwan Digital Publishing Forum, Taipei, Taiwan, January 2019. Left to right: Steve Goschnick, Christine, Yangchu Lai (President, TDPF, and Managing Director of the aforementioned HyWeb Technologies, hence the same background), Ariel Huang (Executive Secretary, TDPF).

Taiwan Digital Publishing Forum (TDPF) – Established in 2008, TDPF is a strategic alliance of nearly 140 publishers, publishers’ associations, digital content providers, think tanks, and ITC (information technology & communication) service providers in Taiwan and beyond. Presently, it is also a member of the International Digital Publishing Forum and the U.S.-based Book Industry Study Group. As a grassroots organisation, TDPF aims to integrate digital publishing industry resources and know-how, to enhance collaboration between the development, policy-making, teaching, learning and research of digital publishing, to promote digital publishing in general, and to facilitate cross-discipline cooperation between digital publishing and ITC services, both locally and internationally. The three major goals of TDPF are to establish a communication platform among all digital content and service providers, to facilitate sharing of digital publishing technologies and know-how, and to promote digital reading in Taiwan.

TDPF has played a major role in promoting digital publishing in Taiwan and other parts of the Chinese World. For example, it was TDPF that established epub as the industry standard ebook format in Taiwan. Throughout the years, TDPF also organised numerous workshops, seminars and training courses on all aspects of digital publishing and promotion, and facilitated a wide range of technological, academic and cultural exchanges between digital content and service providers in Taiwan and their counterparts overseas, including China, Japan, Southeast Asia and North America. Most importantly, TDPF leads the shaping of Taiwan’s digital environment by ensuring that policy-makers understand and meet the needs of the digital publishing and ICT industries as they strive to remain not only relevant but also competitive in the world. It makes sense that future collaboration and exchanges between Australian authors and publishers and their Taiwanese counterparts can and should receive assistance from TDPF, especially in regards with digital publishing and promotion. Hopefully, such possibilities will be explored via Writers Victoria and other public and private literary organisations across Australia.

Conclusion: Needless to say, any attempt to promote and distribute Chinese-language editions of books by Australian authors in digital and print formats in Taiwan and beyond requires high-quality translation of these books from English to Chinese in the first place. As a professional translator with 23 years of experience of working between the English and Chinese languages, my advice would be for traditional and independent authors and publishers across Australia to equally pursue opportunities in Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese markets, instead of favouring either. More importantly, to increase our chance of making a smooth and successful entry to the Chinese World, our authors and publishers can and should actively explore opportunities to collaborate with our counterparts in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, while seeking to engage the diverse Chinese communities here in Australia, for example through our local libraries. Another good start will be to participate in Chinese-language book fairs equipped with sample translations of worthy Australian books in both Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. In other words, instead of waiting for publishers in China and Taiwan to notice us, our authors and publishers across Australia can considerably enhance our books being introduced to the Chinese World by taking the initiative to provide high-quality partial or complete Chinese translation of our books through some or all of the distribution channels highlighted in this report. The key is to dream large and give it a go.

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