Publications on Shaanxi regional culture and history—such as A Comprehensive History of Shaanxi, 5,000 of Shaanxi, Meng Man on Tang Dynasty: Emperor Xuanzong—are a niche segment at SNUGPH. This has much to do with the fact that Shaanxi province is considered the cradle of Chinese civilization. Four major ruling dynasties, spanning over 1,000 years, established their seats of power there. Shaanxi was also the point of origin of the Silk Road.
It is hardly surprising, then, that SNUGPH embarked on a massive decadelong digitization project of ancient Chinese cultural study. The first version of the groundbreaking Hanji Digital Library was launched in 2010, and it was immediately conferred the first Shaanxi Book Award. The second version, unveiled in September 2016, has been critically acclaimed as the most comprehensive database collection of its kind. The depository includes inscriptions and carvings (on oracle bone, bronze object, and stone), archival documents (from Dunhuang and the Ming and Qing dynasties), calligraphy, paintings, maps, and works on traditional Chinese medicine. More than 200,000 archival (and mostly rare) documents in eight major subjects covering 57 categories have been collected.
The Hanji “is an ongoing project, and we are refining the digital database to enable full-text search function and other tools to enable faster and more accurate search and indexing,” says SNUGPH president Liu Dongfeng. “We are opening this resource to foreign sinologists, scholars from other disciplines, and major libraries and universities around the globe so that they can participate and contribute to this project to make it even better and more useful as the primary tool of choice in the research and study of Chinese historical culture and as an essential database on ancient Chinese books.” More than a dozen Chinese universities use the Hanji, and many more have begun trial runs.
Middle School Teaching Reference, a periodical series covering eight subjects (biology, chemistry, Chinese language, geography, history, math, physics, and politics), is SNUGPH’s perennial bestseller in the education segment. A must-have reference for teachers and schools across China, this series has been around for 45 years, far longer than SNUGPH, which was established in 1985. Then there are bestsellers such as The Mythology Anthology, The Compilation of Chinese Folk Painted Clay Sculptures, and Zhang Juzheng: An Annotated Edition. First printings, usually paperback, range between 5,000 and 8,000 copies.
SNUGPH titles such as The Wisdom of Zhuangzi and Days at the Northwestern Bureau have been translated into Korean while Ethos of the Past is now available in traditional Chinese. The press has also translated several overseas titles, including Martin Gilbert’s A History of the Twentieth Century, Maynard Solomon’s Beethoven, and Stefan Zweig’s Chess Story, introduced by Peter Gay. Last year, SNUGPH’s copyright-trading activities earned it the National Copyright Model Organization award for achieving a more balanced import/export ratio. Overall, the press published 428 new titles and reprinted more than 880 in 2016.
In the coming months, multivolume publications such as Chinese Tea History, The Comprehensive Reference to Chinese Geoscience, The Grand Dictionary of Buddhist Arts, Forest of Stone Steles in Xi’an, The Illustrated Folk Customs of the Silk Road, and 100 Tang Poetries will be on the market. “Many of these will be transformed into integrated database projects, which will give us the capabilities to augment continuing research while supporting the teaching and learning communities, and keep on improving the content for future editions,” says Liu. He adds that the demand for knowledge-based services for teaching and learning is one key driver pushing these database projects.
“Now that the whole academic publishing sector is transitioning from a historically supply-driven model to one that is demand-driven, we have to look into ways to blend the two, and integrated publishing involving multimedia formats is the way forward,” Liu says, adding that marketing strategies are something new that needed to be assimilated into the press’s publishing program. “At the same time, we are looking at the whole spectrum of exchanges—beyond rights trading and copublishing, for instance—with counterparts across the world. With globalization and digitization, the needs of the readers have also diversified, and this has driven SNUGPH to continually adjust our publishing program, enhance our publications digitally, enrich our knowledge services, and improve our service quality.”