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Digital publishing on fast growth track
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2009-06-03 08:56

By Zhuang Guangping

With the changing of people's reading habit, digitalization is irresistibly becoming the tide and the future of the publishing industry. Recently, the "Report of the Sample Survey on the National Reading Habit and Purchase Preference in 2008" issued by China Institute of Publishing Science showed that digital media reading like online reading, mobile phone reading and hand-held reader reading got increasingly popular. In the past 7 years, the online reading population in China kept a growth of 40 percent or so per year, and in 2008, the reading rate of various digital media in the Chinese adults reached 24.5 percent. Among all digital reading media, the online reading ranked the first at the rate of 15.7 percent, and the second is mobile phone reading, which takes up 12.7 percent. In addition, 2.8 percent adults read only digital media readings rather than paper books.

The change of reading methods directly leads to the replacement of traditional publishing industry with digital publishing industry. In 2007, according to a certain statistics made by an institute on the industrial growth rate of the three major publications of book, periodical and newspaper, the traditional publishing industry only grew by 6.6 percent, while the digital publishing industry grew by 96 percent. Compared with the steadily growing traditional publishing industry, the digital publishing development is now on the upsurge.

In 2008, the overall business scale of the Chinese digital publishing industry reached RMB53 billion yuan, 46.42 percent higher than 2007. Among it, the digital income from digital newspapers got RMB1 billion yuan; income from e-books got RMB200 million yuan; income from blogs got RMB975 million yuan; income from online music got RMB152 million yuan; and income from mobile publications got RMB15 billion yuan.

 "The information technology has penetrated into each link of the publishing, from the digitalization of original works to the digitalization of editing and processing, the digitalization of publishing and duplicating, digitalization of distribution and sales, and the digitalization of reading habit." Zhang Li, vice director of the Digital Publishing Research Division of China Institute of Publishing Science analyzed, "The digitalization has now become the necessary tendency for the traditional Chinese publishing industry to realize leap-forward development."

In line with the change of reading habit, methods of information supply are also changing toward digitalization. The digital resource construction becomes a necessary request for a modern library. With advanced image recognition technology, the excellent Chinese traditional culture such as many precious old scriptures of poesies, books, and paintings are placed on the internet, and function in a broader scope. And, Chinese digital libraries have possessed a batch of digital resources with characteristics over the decade of development. In 2008, the sales income of e-books on the digital library market was RMB122 million yuan, and in four successive years, its scale was kept in a level of over RMB100 million yuan.

In the meantime, numerous domestic digital library publishers and digital data suppliers appeared in China to meet the market demands. Private companies like Superstar and Shusheng conducted professional book and document digital publishing based on the resources of major libraries; Wangfang Data, Tongfang and VIP became professional charge reading companies based on resources of various research institutes and universities.

In recent years, the charge reading market has kept momentum of rapid growth. The sales income of charge reading of e-books grew to RMB69 million yuan in 2008 from RMB30 million yuan in 2006 and RMB36 million yuan in 2007. The market is getting mature day by day with larger and larger increasing potential. It is predicted that the output value of the charge reading market will get RMB91 million yuan in 2009.

The digital reading market in China still has large space. Though Chinese is the language with the largest reader population, Chinese information volume on the internet takes up only 5 percent of the total information volume. With the ever-progressing new technologies and new media, the digital publishing will become a significant factor of the growth of the publishing industry. Traditional publishing industry must grasp tightly the opportunities brought by the new technologies, so as to develop quicker in line with the trend. 
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