CN Times Books is the U.S. publishing subsidiary of Beijing Media Time Book Co. Ltd., one of the largest trade book publishers in China. Launched in New York City last year, CN Times Books is headed by publisher George Zhu and is the first venture outside of China by its parent company. The new trade house is gearing up quickly to enter the U.S. book market, with plans to release 24 books this year and from 40 to 100 titles in 2014.
“Our focus is to be a cultural bridge between China and the West,” v-p and associate publisher Paul Harrington told PW. Harrington is a veteran American publishing and marketing professional tabbed by Zhu to head the American operation. “We’re publishing books to describe China to the Western reader and to introduce [Westerners] to Chinese authors,” Harrington added.
“My job is to be bold and build a company that can operate in the U.S.,” said Harrington, who has been on a fast track to hire production, sales, marketing, and publicity staff. Harrison acknowledged that mainland Chinese publishers and their lists are closely monitored and regulated by the Chinese government. “If you have government support you can get your books out there, but in the U.S. the marketplace and promotion are obviously much different,” he observed.
Harrington said that CNTB’s parent company, Beijing Media Time Books, was started five years ago by Zhu. BMTB publishes about 600 books a year aimed at the general trade and also publishes some academic and English-language titles. Zhu moved to the New York area with his family to launch the U.S. imprint, and the company has been moving fast to establish itself. Since the U.S. imprint began last October, Harrington has been looking for appropriate titles for the list and scrambled to put together a booth at this year’s BEA. Harrington said that BMTB is taking advantage of Chinese government support. For expansion to foreign markets, he said, “there are grants for translation and some government subsidies.”
Harrington has worked in sales and marketing at Oxford University Press, Continuum Publishing, and Other Press, and in editorial capacities at Little, Brown, in addition to working in bookselling at Tower Books. He said that while his publisher, Zhu, “knows publishing in China, he also knew he needed an American running the company.”
Harrington was originally hired as CNTB’s sales and marketing director before being tapped as its associate publisher. In turn, Harrington hired Sean Concannon as CNTB’s new sales and marketing manager. Another veteran publishing professional, Concannon has been an independent sales rep for titles from Capstone Press, Routledge, Academy Chicago, Diamond Book Distributors, and a number of university presses in addition to being the former executive director of the National Association of Independent Publishers Representatives. CNTB has also hired Anthony W. LaSasso as publicity manager (he previously worked for Alyson Books and Bow Tie Press), and India Amos, previously e-book developer at F + W Media, has been hired on as managing editor for print and digital production. Currently, CNTB has six full-time staffers in the U.S. and two Beijing-based staff handling rights. Distribution is by Ingram Publisher Services. Most of the initial English-language titles (among them Chinese history, economics, politics, culture, and literature) have been acquired from other Chinese houses that publish in English for the Chinese domestic market, Harrington said. “We’re looking to acquire American authors and we’re talking with agents now.”
The house has just released China Threat: The Challenges, Myths, and Realities of China’s Rise by Lionel Vairon, an expert on Asia and China; its a title Harrington said embodies the CNTB mission as a publisher. Released in July with a 10,000-copy first printing, the book provides an overview of Chinese economic policy, national defense, and human rights issues. According to Harrington, the book challenges conventional Western views of China’s growing international presence.
“Part of our mission is to show how the West can get along better with China,” Harrington said. “China is a global player and we need to engage them with greater regard and respect.”