China publishing going public – new bold steps

The well established and well controlled environment of China’s 578 or so state owned publishing companies is probably about to be shaken up considerably as several of those companies are about to go public.

Liaoning Publishing Group is the leader of the pack as they already are listed at the Shanghai stock exchange for several months (for a company profile see here). But several others are about to getting their act together, including Anhui Publishing group, Jiangxi Publishing Group and Hunan Publishing Group. Take note that all of them are ventures of specific Chinese provinces, which highlights a) how complex China has become today, as provinces sharpen their profiles and very aggressively use e.g. publishing and other creative industries for recognition building and b) it shows that even as the Chinese state stays formally in control as the majority stakeholder, things are getting more complicated – and, you bet, more dynamic.

For the latter it is enough to browse the really flashy 2008 Autumn catalogue of e.g. the  “Liaoning Science and Technology Publishing House“, Lioaoning’s most cutting edge imprint which is not about some odd hardware store kind of books, but design, art, or architecture in China and from around the world. Or you have a look at their outstanding stand design at BIBF where you can chat, in English of course, with one of their editors who would instantly fit into any Soho ambiance in London or New York.


They will, of course,  be present at the major upcoming international book fairs, and I guess they will be in the professional news rather sooner than later.

It is also telling that one of the leading young and individualistic entrepreneurs of Chinese publishing, Lu Jinbo, after getting out of his joint venture with Bertelsmann, teamed up for his new brain child “Wan Rong” with the Liaoning Group.

Please allow me a few days for further details and some back ground research on this as I just arrived in Beijing, after quitting Tinajin and BIBF earlier today, and am utterly exhausted. But there is more to report from how publishing in China seems to be on the brink of change.

I guess it all only starts really now.

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