China Translation & Publishing House

Established in 1973 as China Translation & Publishing Corporation, this state-level institution was originally tasked with translating and publishing documents from the United Nations and UNESCO. Later, it was split into CTPH and China Translation Corp. to accelerate growth. But the early years left an indelible mark on CTPH.

“Those activities gave us plenty of exposure to different countries, companies, and translators, and we got used to working across cultures and languages. So by the time the separation happened in 2015, we were able to reorganize quickly and move aggressively to build our publishing program,” says president Zhang Gaoli, who launched the Wee Sing series for English-language learning and bilingual Chinese-English editions of Dr. Seuss books just a year later.

The current team of 62 people, of whom 35 are editors, recently translated the bestselling series DK English for Everyone and Penguin Great Ideas. CTPH offers about 380 new titles annually (with nearly 10,000 in the backlist) in five major categories: arts and literature, children’s books, education, foreign-language learning, and social sciences.

Several original series have spread the CTPH brand beyond the Chinese shores and accelerated its rights-selling and copublishing programs. One explores the key market players behind China’s economic rise. “Many people wanted to learn and understand more about China and its economic expansion, and that gave us the idea to look into the success stories of local entrepreneurs and share them with the rest of the world,” says Zhang. The first five volumes of the Chinese Entrepreneurs series are on Jack Ma (of Alibaba), Ma Huateng (Tencent), Dong Mingzhu (Gree), Ren Zhengfei (Huawei), and Wang Jianlin (Dalian Wanda). The second set of five titles—on the leaders of Fosun, Haier, Baidu, SF, and Yangtze River—was launched in early 2019. The series, available in English through CTPH’s copublishing program with London-based LID Publishing, has been translated into 16 languages, including Arabic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese.

Another series, From Inside China, offers more glimpses into the country, the mindset of its people, and the ideologies that continue to shape it. Among the 26 titles in the series are: Green Great Wall, Migrant Workers and the City: Generation Now, The People’s Secretary: Fighting Corruption in the People’s Party, and Zhongshan Road: Following the Trail of China’s Modernization. “Migrant Workers, for instance, has captured the attention of publishers from countries such as Canada and India, where shifting demographics are slowly but steadily transforming their economies from agriculture to service and high-tech industries. So we are able to share our unique challenges and experiences with these overseas readers,” Zhang adds.

In the series The Sinologists, on the other hand, the voices come from a group of foreigners who know and love China. “How Robin Gilbank from the U.K. or Wolfgang Kubin from Germany look at us as a country and people is vastly different from how we view ourselves. Their perspectives, which highlight the differences and similarities between Chinese and the authors’ own cultures, will foster a better understanding of China as a whole.” Gilbank’s An Englishman in the Land of Qin and Exploring China and Kubin’s Life in China are among the nine titles in this series.

CTPH is also known for introducing big-name contemporary ethnic Chinese authors to the international stage through its Kaleidoscope: China’s Ethnic Writers series. Out of the 40 works in the series so far, the most popular have included Tibetan writer A-lai’s Hollow Mountain (with rights already sold to 14 countries), Yi author Jidi Majia’s Identity, Yunnan poet Luruo Diji’s No Water Cleaner Than Tears, and Kazakh author Yerkesy Hulmanbiek’s An Eternal Lamb.

Collaborations with overseas companies are plentiful at CTPH, including with Ankur Prakashani (Bangladesh), Estacion La Cultura (Peru), Havana University Press (Cuba), Kossuth (Hungary), Pyi Zone (Myanmar), Rao (Romania), and Saengdao (Thailand). To date, CTPH has inked more than 300 rights deals with publishers from 23 countries in the Americas, Europe, and the group participating in China’s Belt and Road economic initiative.

In May 2018, CTPH signed an agreement to launch the Chinese edition of UNESCO Courier magazine. Zhang says, “With this project, it seems like CTPH has come full circle, going back to the very first overseas partner that we collaborated with 46 years ago. It also goes to show that, despite the years in between and throughout the major changes in this book market, our goal and commitment as a publishing house remains steadfast—and that is to bring the best content from China to the world, and vice versa.”

East China Normal University Press

Education is at the heart of the mission of ECNUP, which ranks among China’s top 10 university presses in terms of sales and influence. A look at its catalogue uncovers everything on the subject, including textbooks from the preschool to the vocational level, teacher education materials, and titles on educational theory and psychology.

In spring 2019, ECNUP signed an agreement with SAGE Publishing to publish ECNU Review of Education, an open-access English-language journal that focuses on cutting-edge educational research in China and the world. The journal, according to ECNUP president Wang Yan, “seeks to build a global forum for scholars interested in advancing knowledge, generating big ideas, and exerting a real impact in education.”

Prior to that, at the 2018 Beijing International Book Fair, ECNUP signed two cooperation agreements with overseas partners. The first was with Peter Lang to publish the English edition of China’s Path to Education Modernization, a collection of 10 monographs that provide deep analyses, details, and insights from top Chinese scholars in educational research. The second was with World Scientific Publishing to publish the WSPC-ECNU Series, which showcases major research results since 2012 in areas including education, literature, philosophy, and sociology. “These two series offer the international academic community valuable studies and viewpoints on the problems, experiences, and traditions of modern-day China,” says Wang.

But it is not just high-level academic publishing at ECNUP. Last November, Wang and her team, together with LEGO Group, launched an elementary-school STEAM course. The goal, adds Wang, “is to support teachers in an inspiring, engaging, and effective way while turning Chinese students into collaborative learners with 21st-century skills. We are leveraging the power of play to develop lifelong skills.”

Then there is the 65-volume Shanghai Maths series, the press’s flagship product and its biggest—and most influential—export to-date. HarperCollins, which has had the rights for the U.K. and British Commonwealth territories since 2015, introduced the math textbooks to British primary and secondary schoolers, and the set became an immediate hit. Now, another series, 5-Minute Maths Mastery, is being adapted and tweaked to suit the British curriculum.

For Wang, Shanghai Maths is a major milestone for ECNUP. “We have been talking about Chinese publications and publishers ‘going out’ [exporting titles] for a while now. This set of textbooks, which is being considered for adaptation in non-English languages, is about ‘going into’ [adapting content for] different markets. This is exactly what we want to do for other publications as well, but we are starting with our strongest product, and that is mathematics.”

Imports and translation activities continue to grow as well. One major project that has kept the team busy for many months has to do with the centennial birthday of philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey. One title, Dewey: Record of His Time in China and What He Did, was published in May, followed by a 12-volume Selected Works of John Dewey series. The team has also organized six events, mostly lectures and conferences, on Dewey and his influence on Chinese education.

Wang adds, “We have several other big projects going on, mostly single-title publications. One of them is A History of Africa in Pictures, which features photographs—many of which are rare—of old Africa alongside anecdotes and background stories.” Her team is also working with French publishers on titles about music history and feminist studies. Another groundbreaking and research-intensive publication explores the evolution of ancient Chinese script during the Qin, Han, and Six Dynasties periods in 10 volumes. The research findings will also be made into a digital database to encourage further studies and discovery.

“While we want to focus on our strengths in areas such as education and mathematics, we also want to publish meaningful works that address gaps in the Chinese book market and academic publishing, on topics such as feminism. Or have Chinese poets analyze and interpret English poems and vice versa, and publish the original and interpreted selections to showcase the different emotions, experiences, and ideas involved.” The latter is encapsulated in Third Shore of the Sea, edited by poet Yang Lian.

The ECNUP publishing program, Wang says, “aims to attain the highest levels of scholarship and research while creating products that appeal to the reading public. Well-written and in-depth content offers great value to readers and enriches their lives—and this has always been our guiding principle.”

Guangxi Normal University Press Group

Leveraging GNUP’s more than 30 companies and subsidiaries to enhance its brand and influence keeps the group’s chairman, Zhang Yibing, busy and energized. Major acquisitions—of the Australian company Images Publishing in 2014 and U.K.-based ACC Publishing in 2016—have been followed by several new partnerships and overseas branches.

The group made collaborative agreements with Asia Think Tank Co. last November, with the goal of connecting with ASEAN member countries, and Japanese publisher Juritsusha six months later, to create a platform for children’s publishing activities in Northeast Asia. “Together with our Croatian partner, children’s publisher Djecja Knjiga, we hope to create a network that spans Europe and Asia,” adds Zhang, who established a Macau office in July to forge a link between the Chinese special administrative region and other Portuguese-speaking places.

Then there are major translation projects, such as the one with a Malaysian government agency to publish 10 classic Chinese literary works in Malay and vice versa. “This is the first time such a large number of Malay literary works is being exported to China, and for us, it begins a new chapter in interregional exchanges and understanding,” Zhang says.

Arts Bridge—the brand that combines the resources and talents of Images and ACC and is supported by editorial offices in Australia, Singapore, the U.K., and the U.S.—presents an even bigger platform for GNUP. “It gives us the opportunity and space to promote Chinese art, artists, creativity, and design on the international stage” Zhang explains, adding that Arts Bridge had held events at the 2017 Frankfurt and 2019 London book fairs. “We introduced to the world the exceptional art of designer Zhu Yingchun, including his award-winning book The Language of Bugs, and selected ceramic works from Bai Ming. Now, Zhu’s book and Bai’s ceramics are, respectively, found in the British Library and British Museum permanent collections.”

The 2017 publication The Beauty of B&Bs, featuring more than 100 outstanding architectural designs, further showcased Arts Bridge’s reach in putting together an international group of editors and publishers with a shared agenda in promoting art and design.

Then, in May 2018, GNUP released the first issue of Architecture China at the Venice Architecture Biennale. “This will become a quarterly journal jointly published by ACC, Images, and GNUP and edited by Li Xiangning, deputy dean and professor of architecture and urban planning at Tongji University,” Zhang says.

Shi Zhan’s Pivots: 3,000 Years of China was launched during a popular talk show in 2018 and sold more than 50,000 copies within 48 hours. “Its current sales of about 280,000 copies are indicative of an audience curious about changes within China and its current position on the world stage,” says Zhang. Wu Gou’s Elegant Song: The Visible Civilization, which explores life during the Song dynasty, won the 2018 China Good Book award and has sold 80,000 copies to date.

Other outstanding titles from GNUP in recent months include The City of Shadows: Liang Sicheng and Guanghan in 1939/1941, which spotlights Chinese historical sites and cultural heritage, and translations of Bob Dylan’s The Lyrics: 1961–2012 and David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America.

There has also been a surge in collaborations between GNUP and countries involved in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. “Our group has invested nearly 10 million CNY in 20 publishing programs to foster cultural and information exchanges,” says Zhang. Oriental Wisdom, a 100-title series of key Chinese classics, will initially be translated into eight languages (Burmese, Cambodian, English, Indonesian, Lao, Malay, Thai, and Vietnamese). Other projects include a book on the historical friendship between the Chinese and Philippine peoples, a culture and tourism series on the Maritime Silk Road, and a series on the history of Hepu County, a major ancient trading hub.

“Chinese publishers, including GNUP, have copublished and traded rights with the West going back several decades. The same, however, cannot be said about neighboring and regional countries—and we are going to ride on the Belt and Road Initiative to rectify this,” says Zhang. “Sharing knowledge while exploring different perspectives is what publishing and GNUP are all about—and this goal transcends culture, geography, history, and language.”

Tongji University Press

For 35-year-old TJUP, focusing on the strengths of its parent university’s faculty makes perfect sense. “Art and design, architecture and the built environment, and civil and structural engineering are our three core areas,” says general manager Hua Chunrong, adding that Tongji University was ranked #14, #18, and #40 in these subjects, respectively, in the 2019 QS World University Rankings. “We started in 2012 by establishing a high-end professional publishing brand, Luminocity, which focuses on urbanism and architecture. Our slogan, ‘reading enlightens the city,’ encapsulates this focus.”

In 2017, the team started publishing original titles in English and distributing them worldwide. “We are one of the first in the Chinese academic world to do so,” says Hua. Among the 10 original English titles it has published so far are Neil Leach and Philip F. Yuan’s Computational Design, Mary Polites’s The Rise of Biodesign, and Lan Wang’s Walkable Cities in High Density China.

The university’s various joint-degree programs, workshops, and research with visiting professors, mostly from the West, give the press access to “international standards, multicultural viewpoints, and global ideas. At the same time, our local lecturers—many whom have studied and worked overseas—prefer to write in English on their own or collaborate with these visiting professors and fellow researchers. This forms a strong basis for our English publishing program,” Hua says.

Some of these original English publications are breaking the staid academic mold. One such project is the three-volume architectural graphic nonfiction series focusing on contemporary Beijing—798 Art District, Nanluoguxiang, and Sanlitun. Hua says, “Aside from publishing academic titles to support the faculty, our goal is also to offer accessible, entertaining, and visually attractive titles that can reach the general readership.”

The press’s collaborations with overseas publishers are also going strong. Between 2017 and 2018, TJUP signed about 20 copublishing agreements with companies such as De Gruyter, Elsevier, Springer, and Taylor & Francis. This year, TJUP is looking into publishing select titles in Arabic and Kazakh as a part of the pan-Eurasian knowledge network involved in the Belt and Road economic initiative.

Hua’s goal for the press is “to publish Chinese experiences and bring Chinese scholarly voices to the world. What we are striving to do through our publishing program is to replace the label ‘printed in China’ with ‘published in China.’”

Zhejiang Publishing & Media Company

ZPMC excels at producing authoritative, major reference works. The China Classic Book Collections, for instance, compiles 690 ancient titles from the pre-Qin to late Qing dynasties into 166 volumes (of more than 170,000 pages) available in print and digital formats. Another ambitious project is the Zhejiang Literature Collections, of which 500 volumes are already completed, with another 300 to follow by 2022.

As for the Complete Works of Mo Yan, 26 out of a planned 47 volumes are now available. Reprints of works by Mo, the first Chinese Nobel Literature Prize winner, have exceeded two million copies, and rights have been sold to more than 40 countries. Then there is the Complete Works of Edvard Munch, reproducing 1,871 works by the Norwegian expressionist painter, which King Harald V of Norway purchased and later presented as a state gift to Chinese president Xi Jinping.

But ZPMC is not just about art and literature. There are many STM journals and publications as well, including the China’s Big Scientific Facilities Projects series, which focuses on 13 of the nation’s most important and innovative scientific installations, such as the electron-positron collider and Daya Bay nuclear power plant. Foreign rights were sold to De Gruyter.

“Intraregional rights sales and copublishing efforts have been brisk in recent months, particularly with Belt-and-Road countries,” says general manager Zhu Yongliang. “Africa is an emerging market, where our titles on agricultural science and technology and public health and medical treatment are available in 11 countries and 20 language editions.” In Cameroon, the French edition of one ZPMC textbook series is used by 200 middle and high schools.

Behind the scenes, integration and realignment of ZPMC divisions are ongoing. Earlier this year, its large-scale Bookuu Digital Publishing Group was formed to integrate its audio, video, online, and periodical units. “Bookuu Digital offers a knowledge-based service platform with new media matrix to connect various ZPMC publishing units with writers and readers and to disseminate product information through multiple channels and formats,” adds Zhu.

The Bookuu platform, Zhu says, “allows users to set up their own stores independently and have access to add-on functions such as retailing, e-reading, and e-learning. It combines these activities with social media. The whole idea behind Bookuu Digital and its platform is about meeting industry shifts and consumer demands.”