Striving to uphold its stated mission to be “a kid’s best friend,” Hunan Juvenile & Children’s Publishing House has been on a 35-year journey to assemble the best children’s materials from near and far. Hunan Juvenile’s offerings from DK, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Highlights—three of its biggest imported brands—are boosted by its long list of locally renowned authors such as Tang Sulan (with the series Clumsy Wolf, Little Witch Zhen Meili, and Fantasy Spirits), Mu Ling (with the Animal series) and Qin Wenjun (with the Prince series), and illustrators such as Cai Gao.
“It is not just about picture books with us. It is about providing the relevant—and crucial—educational materials for every stage in a child’s life, from pop science to YA literature,” says v-p Wu Shuangying, whose company offers everything from vocabulary-builder books right up to science books for teenagers. This Is Science: One Thousand Proofs, for instance, is a new augmented-reality (AR) title based on a Hunan TV program about scientific exploration, while the Vanilla’s Stories and Guidebook for Girls series are targeted at the development of teenage girls.
“We take our social responsibility as a publisher seriously, in that we strive to identify societal needs and then look for the right titles and authors to plug those holes,” Wu says. “Our first priority is always to publish original works—not homogeneous products—and, if that option is not available or viable, then we import outstanding titles with the hope of inspiring local works of the same caliber.” Hunan Juvenile’s sales from the Children’s Britannica series, for example, exceed CNY 20 million annually.
Hunan Juvenile’s year-round roster of book-related activities—“the key driver of our sales and branding exercise,” Wu says—has recently seen the company strengthening its collaboration with bricks-and-mortar bookstores. “Annually, we hold hundreds of events—including events for primary and secondary schoolers and expert-led classes for parents and teachers—at physical bookstores, with national chain Xinhua Bookstores being the most common venue,” Wu explains. “In rural and remote areas where online distribution is immature, bookstores remain the social hubs and access points for the community and for publishers, and so we must work in tandem with both physical and online channels to guarantee future business and brand expansion.”