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Domestic publishing industry on information highway
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2008-07-10 09:34

By Zhuang Guangping

"Without the Internet or the informatization system, our publishing volume of 160 million words every year can be finished only by recruiting at least 1/2 of the present staff." Xie Shouguang, president of the Social Sciences Academic Press, told the reporter in an interview.

With the fast development of information technology, especially the advent and popularization of the Internet, informatization construction has become an important means for industries to improve management efficiency and to increase key competitiveness. Conventional operation method of the publishing industry is also gradually changing along with the development of information technology.

In the 1980s, computers were used in the publishing industry and manual movable typesetting was replaced by laser typesetting technology; in the 1990s, the popularization of windows software helped to realize office automation in every links of the publishing press including editing, printing and issuance; now with the help of advanced digital technology and the Internet, breakthrough has been achieved in traditional publishing and issuance work, and some new business patterns like electronic publication, on-line sales and printing-on-demand (POD) are becoming the new increasing pole in the development of the publishing industry.

The construction of Informatization system is the most basic link in the informatization of traditional publishing houses, including digitalization of publication production, net-cooperative manuscript delivery, and computerization of editing, designing and typesetting, etc.

Informatization system simplifies and put in order the traditional publishing process. Publishing houses increase their work efficiency and achieve effective management of resources. At present, informatization systems designed for the publishing industry is rather mature. Publishing houses no longer need to invest big money in informatization system reconstruction. Most domestic publishing houses have already completed this link in informatization construction.
In recent years, the publishing industry has transformed from seller's market to buyer's market. The book inventory keeps increasing. How to effectively promote books circulation?

The internet can be treated as an effective platform for the presses to expand sales channels. In recent years, publishing houses have established their own on-line "marketing department" one after another, to show the company image to society and readers and to announce publication information. The internet, being open 7/24 and universally accessible, breaks many limitations of traditional book marketing and sales. The on-line sales platform has become a "forever open order-placing meeting" for publishing houses.

 Take China Machine Press (CMP) as an example. In 5 years, CMP has set up 4 online platforms. In 2005, the online book sales only took up 1 percent of the total book sales of CMP; online sales reached 2 percent in 2006 and 4 percent in 2007; in 2008, the proportion is still increasing rapidly--the consignment and sales in the first quarter has already reached 50 percent of the total in 2007. It's estimated that the online sales of this year may reach 10 percent of total sales.

In addition, in 2007, total volume book sales on the two largest domestic book-selling websites, Dangdang and Joyo, was about ?800 million Yuan, which was about 2-4 percent of the total book sales volume in the domestic market, with a sales increase of 70-100 percent.

On-line issuance is the future trend for the publishing industry and has gradually become a new channel what would serve as an effective supplement of conventional publishing methods. Insiders estimated that in 3 to 5 years, online sales would reach 20-25 percent in domestic sales in volume.

With powerful development momentum, the digital publishing industry is gradually becoming the "front line" in the transformation of publishing industry in China. The total digital publishing scale in China has increased from ?1.59 billion Yuan in 2000 to ?20 billion Yuan in 2006 and ?30 billion Yuan in 2007. The 2008 Blue Book on Culture issued recently by China Academy of Social Sciences predicted that, in the coming 5 years, the volume of electronic books and digital newspapers purchased by institutional customers such as libraries would value at ? 1 billion Yuan; the income in electronic books, digital newspapers sales and advertisement profit brought by netizens and mobile phone users would reach ? 5 billion Yuan.

"Digital publishing business is the most profitable and most stable source of income." said Dong Tieying, president of Intellectual Property Publishing House (IPPH). In the face of more and more severe competition in publishing industry, many specialized publishing houses are beginning to shift business from book production to information services. In 1980s, all IPPH patent papers were in paper form, in 1990s in CDs, and in the 21 century, all in databases. The key work of publishing houses has also changed into the processing and integration of the content.
Digital publishing also promotes the development of POD in the publishing industry. "All the publishing information is stored in the computer system, and could be printed into books directly when necessary. Some intermediate links like plate making can be omitted. It's available for at least just one copy each time which could be printed immediately. It is much convenient for the customers." said Xie Shouguang.

As for the POD, electronic storage has replaced material storage of the books, which could avoid a great deal of resource waste and resource consumption in production. At the same time, POD has broken the working division between conventional publishing houses and issuance institutes. The publishers could open to readers directly and bookstores may also sell the print-on-spot books. Every link on the publishing line is therefore connected properly.
Presently, the publishing industry has stepped into an individualized cross-media publishing era. Xie Shouguang believed that, information technology would specify more clearly the professional division of publishing industry in future." The development of publishing presses will be connected more and more closely with emerging information technology." 
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