With nearly 1,000 new titles per year and 16 journals (five of which are in the Science Citation Index), the 33-year-old Zhejiang University Press is a hotbed of activity. In February, it launched Wu Xiaobo’s The Story of Tencent 1998–2016: Survivor, Challenger, and Leader, which has sold about 380,000 copies across China. That was followed by the release of a new peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal, Food Quality and Safety, copublished with Oxford University Press. Next came Silks from the Silk Road, authored by the vice director of the China National Silk Museum. And, in between, there was a 12-title launch—including The Architecture of Zhejiang University—to commemorate the institution’s 120th anniversary.
Headquartered in picturesque Hangzhou, 75 miles southwest of Shanghai, ZJUP has had copublishing deals with many overseas publishers over the years, including Cambridge University Press (Rumors in Han Dynasties and China’s Early Modern Economy), Elsevier (Intelligent Systems and Technology in China), Palgrave Macmillan (China’s Economic Transformation, Innovation, and Development), and Springer Nature (Research on the Intelligent City Construction and Promotion Strategies). ZJUP has also translated and published Ray Monk’s Ludwig Wittgenstein (48,000 copies sold), Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (14,000 copies), Murray Rothbard’s Man, Economy, and State (12,000 copies), Paul Freedman’s Food: The History of Taste (10,000 copies), and many other titles.
Two of the press’s recent major projects—the 23-volume A Collection of Song Dynasty Paintings and 16-volume A Collection of Yuan Dynasty Paintings—have been lauded for being authoritative and complete compilations with immense value for art connoisseurship and collecting. The U.S. Library of Congress, UNESCO, and national libraries of many European countries have acquired these two collections. Then there is the 314-page large-format Ngari Mural Paintings, which is as much a tribute to applications of digital technology for site preservation and print production as it is a book about ancient culture.
“Art and culture are borderless, with art playing a major role in international cultural exchanges. And now, with the internet, readers are also borderless, and we want to share information and disseminate knowledge based on Zhejiang University’s core specialties—which include art, culture, science, and technology—with the rest of the world,” says Lu Dongming, the president of ZJUP, a professor at the university’s College of Computer Science and Technology, and the coauthor of Digital Preservation for Heritages, a Springer Nature copublication about digital technology applications at archeological sites such as the Mogao Caves, Jinsha, and Hemudu.
“I look at technology, which is fast and furious, and culture, which changes very slowly or remains the same over time, and both affect the reader, the author, and the content. A successful publishing program, and therefore a university press, must carefully balance technology and culture in order to grow not just its catalogue but also its influence on readers and potential authors,” adds Lu, whose strategies for the press revolve around high-quality content, digitization, and internationalization.
Journal publishing, Lu says, is an important segment at ZJUP. “It allows us to focus on the university’s specialties and publish high-level content that will reach out to professionals and researchers, who are our potential authors,” he says. “It is about expanding our sphere of influence.” The Journal of Zhejiang University, with its eight subjournals, for instance, is copublished with Springer Nature in English to reach international readers and make it available for citation.
But finding potential authors is not going to happen overnight, Lu says. “This is a long-term initiative that we are working on together—through workshops and seminars—with partners such as the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the National Science Foundation. The idea is to incubate top talents from all over China, and to get them thinking and writing.” He adds that he is working “on exploring topics with international appeal and influence and nurturing editors who have a broad understanding of overseas markets.”
Currently, China’s Belt and Road initiative is a hot topic for Lu and his team. “We are not just publishing books to address economic and financial concerns coming from readers and observers, local and international, arising from the initiative, but also communicating with them about the art and culture along the old Silk Road linking Asia, Europe, and Africa,” Lu says. Last year, ZJUP launched the Chinese edition of Peter Frankopan’s bestseller The Silk Roads, and signed a copublishing deal for its China Economic Transition and Innovation Development series with Palgrave Macmillan.