Textbooks for primary through junior high schools (the compulsory school years) fall under the Chinese government’s procurement program and are usually purchased in bulk and supplied to schools and libraries. Academic monographs and multivolume publications tend to be purchased by university and public libraries, which are funded by provincial and regional governments. There are currently 3,139 public libraries in China.
The main retail distributor for academic publishers is Xinhua Bookstore, with its vast network of 8,996 stores, which are branded under the same name but with different owners and operational systems. Aside from Xinhua, only a few independent stores are primarily focused on academic titles, including such long-established booksellers as All Sages and Commercial Press in Beijing and Tongji and Fudan in Shanghai.
Now that university and academic presses are making more titles accessible to and appealing for a broader market—and focusing on subject areas such as architecture, art, design, lifestyle, and popular science—independent bookstores have also become an indispensable distribution channel. The indie bookstores that these publishers work with include the Bookworm, OWspace, Sanwei, and Zhengyang (in Beijing); Fangshuo (Guangzhou); Xixifu (Guizhou); Xiaofeng (Hangzhou); Librairie Avant-Garde (Nanjing); Zhongshuge (Shanghai); and Eslite (Suzhou).
There is currently no dedicated online platform for selling academic books in China, but the three major online bookstores—Amazon, Dangdang, and JD—offer academic titles and textbooks. For students looking for bargains and book exchanges, there is the Confucius online store, which offers used books.
Increasingly, academic publishers are looking into social media marketing and paying more attention to leveraging the power of China’s two biggest services, namely the mobile app WeChat and the micro-
blogging site Weibo. Creating online communities and publication buzz is the way to go, and selling directly through branded stores on platforms such as Tmall and Vmall is yet another channel for increasing sales.