With total sales of 400 million CNY in 2016, ECNUP is the top publishing house in Shanghai, and ranks among China’s top 10 university presses. It is also one of the two oldest university presses in the country, with its 60th anniversary coming up in October.
ECNUP’s education-focused publishing program ranges from textbooks and supplementary materials for preschool and primary, secondary, and vocational schools, to teacher education, educational theory to educational psychology. In fact, ECNUP is famed for introducing Western educational and psychological theories to China—theories that have influenced the development of those disciplines there.“We provide the full supply chain when it comes to education matters, offering content, teaching and learning support, counseling, assessment, and online platform,” says ECNUP president Wang Yan.
The press’s flagship product is Shanghai Maths, which started as a supplementary workbook in 1996 and became a regional bestseller. The rights for the U.K. and British Commonwealth territories were sold to Collins in 2015.
“The attention on Shanghai Maths hit an all-time high when Shanghai students scored the highest in math, reading, and science in the 2009 and 2012 PISA [Program for International Student Assessment] tests,” explains Wang, adding that Collins’s Shanghai Maths Project is not a pure translation of the original program. “About 30% of its content has been adapted to suit the British curriculum, and the series is now used in the U.K. primary and secondary schools. Our team is currently adapting the program for other countries. We view such collaborations as cultural exchanges that promote education research and improve teaching methodology between nations—and these go well beyond selling rights and adapting content.”
Rights selling (and buying) has been brisk at ECNUP in recent years. One bestseller on education proverbs by Chen Heqin (who is regarded as China’s father of preschool education) was sold to McGraw-Hill. Zhu Shirong’s bestselling Chinese Art Philosophy has been translated into many languages, including English, German, Korean, and Russian. It is cited in 144 research papers and 53 books, and is highly regarded as the authority on the discussion of the philosophy of Chinese art. Then there are a few titles from the 13-volume Interpretation About Dunhuang series that were sold to Japan, Russia, and South Korea. “We have also signed an agreement with Sage Publishing to start a series on the best of Chinese teaching,” adds Wang.
ECNUP’s team of 110 editors (from a staff of 320) published about 1,300 new titles and reprinted more than 4,000 in 2016. (The press boasts a backlist of about 37,000 titles). ECNUP has also published many translated works, including the four-volume Nyerere Anthology (on modern Tanzania and relations between China and countries in Africa), The Putin Collection: 2012–2014 (his philosophy, thinking, and impact on the Russian people), and three novels by the contemporary Russian author Mikhail Popov.
Recent years have seen the team busy developing titles that are more trade-based but still focused on educating readers. A Swiss’s View of the Late Qing Empire is a good example. This 2016 Shanghai Book Award winner came from a pile of old photos taken by the Swiss silk merchant Adolf Clare more than a century ago. “We dug into the story behind the photos, added part of Clare’s diary to highlight the background of his travels, and included the history of photography during that period,” explains Wang, who hired experts such as art conservator/restorer Marcus Jacobs from Switzerland to work on the book. “This title, which called for international and multilingual collaboration across several disciplines, exemplifies our efforts in publishing titles that will appeal to the reading public while maintaining the highest levels of scholarship.”
ECNUP, adds Wang, had changed tremendously since 2001, when the Chinese school curriculum underwent major reforms. “Two years ago, the college entrance examination was overhauled so that students are no longer assessed purely on their math, Chinese, and English results,” she says. “Nowadays, their personal and social interactions are also a part of the evaluation. So the whole curriculum is changing yet again.”
Wang says the press is focused on furthering its parent university’s goal of excellence in research and scholarship by identifying social trends and designing products to meet diverse educational needs. “ECNUP may be an established press, but we operate like a startup with a nimble and innovative approach to publishing in changing—and challenging—times,” she says.