Opportunities for English Language Books in China
The Chinese are obsessed with English. Up to one fifth of the population (260 million people) is learning the language. Gordon Brown, the British finance minister, observed on a trip to China in 2005, in two decades China’s English speakers will outnumber the native English speakers in the rest of the world.
The appetite for English language materials seems insatiable. It is estimated that $60 billion a year is spent in China on materials comprising books, teaching materials, tests, teacher training and language schools.
So what? This thirst for English-language materials may be a windfall for book publishers of all types. Macmillian has sold more than 100 million school textbooks in China with its partner FLTRP, which has a fifth of the market and is the leading Chinese publisher of English-language books. Pearson subsidiary Longman, Oxford University Press and HarperCollins have popular bilingual dictionaries. Thomson Learning has licensed its teaching materials to People’s Education Press.
Who among the publishers with whom you work is ready to take advantage of this market? Which books are both simply written and interesting enough for the Chinese market? Perhaps there is a fiction book or series of books that would interest the Chinese.
Will it be easy to sell books in China? Undoubtedly no. It requires finding a partner such as FLTRP or a Chinese publisher to help you navigate the terrain. Fortunately, the Frankfurt Book Faire is coming October 4-8, 2006. This is the largest book fair in the world for buying and selling foreign rights and establishing partnerships. It requires preparation and planning for a publisher to meet, negotiate and execute a deal at the Frankfurt Book Faire. Engaging the services of an experienced rights agent may be a worthwhile investment. One with whom I have dealt is:
THE AMERICAS GROUP
9200 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 404
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(310) 278-8037 telephone
(310) 271-3649 fax
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