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Publishers' longevity speaks volumes

来源:Friday, June 22, 2018 CHINA DAILY  

2018-06-22 14:32

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The China Social Sciences Press recently turned 40. To mark the event, 300 scholars and publishing professionals from around the world gathered in Beijing to celebrate.

For Liu Binjie, former publishing minister and now director-general of the Publishers Association of China, the setting up of the publishing house came at a key moment when China was adjusting its road ahead, emancipating minds, and was launching the reform and opening up.

During the social transformation of the past four decades, the publishing house has been a witness and a maker of history, he says.

"It (the publishing house) established itself as the top name for Chinese academic achievements in social sciences, globally," says Liu.

Its first book was Productivity Improvement-published in September 1978-which was a translation of a speech by Donald C Burnham at Carnegie-Mellon University.


The book sold 100,000 copies, showing how much the Chinese wanted to learn about the world outside, says Wang Bin, an employee from the publishing house.

Meanwhile, its first title published overseas-1989's A General Introduction to China was a coproduction with the UK's Pergamon Press.

Speaking about the first foray overseas, Zhao Jianying, the president of the publishing house, says: "It (the publication) signaled one of its main missions-telling China's stories to the world."

Recalling how the publishing house has grown over the years, he says: "We started with tens of employees, but have more than 200 now. And from the thousands of yuan we earned when we started, we are earning more than 200 billions ($31 billion) now. Additionally, we have published over 20,000 titles."

One of publishing house's top sellers is its 11-volume series The Cambridge History of China.

It has spanned generations of editors since 1992, and survived a slump when such works were out of fashion in the 1990s-early 2000s.




Shu Jinyu from China Reading Weekly says the series is still a best-seller in its genre, with 20,000 collections sold every year.

The series was followed by the 12-volume The New Cambridge Modern History.

Wu Yin, a former deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and one of the experts who worked on The Cambridge History of China, says that the publication of the series established the influence of the publishing house, showcased China's academic achievements, and influenced a generation of Chinese scholars.

Zhao adds that the publishing house is the source of 276 Chinese titles, mostly academic books on philosophy and social sciences, that have been published internationally.

It has also introduced more than 200 top Chinese scholars to the international community.

Separately, in 2017, the publishing house was listed first in a study on influential Chinese publishers when it came to libraries overseas.


When it comes to the 20 foreign publishers it works with, Springer Nature is a key partner.

Leana Li, the executive editor with Springer Nature's Beijing office, says that there are some high impact books in its China Insights series, known also as Understanding China series in Chinese.

Speaking about the collaboration, Li says: "We respect the intellectual and cultural traditions of CSSP's brand, and we trust our partner's editorial insights," she adds that Springer Nature sees China as a very important and promising market, and has more than 200 full time employees in China to explore its scholarly life.

"China is now among the world's strongest and biggest sources of scientific research output, and the share of English language academic literature authored by Chinese researchers is increasing quickly and steadily," she says.

Cai Fang's Demystify China's Economy Development is one example of a book from the China Insights series.

In the book, using facts and economic logic, the author explains how China's opening-up policy can boost the growth of its economy.

"The series is more about changes and the current situation, trying to offer authoritative and in-depth explanations," says Zhao.



The series, published in many languages, has 15 titles, including the award-winning The Path of China's Peaceful Development, and Yan Xiaojun's Why is China Stable: Stories from the Grassroots.

As for the future, two more series have been planned, one explaining Chinese systems, and the other a "Brief Reads" series on Chinese history and traditional cultures.

In other developments, the publishing house set up a branch in Chile in 2016, and one in France in 2017, to boost its global links.

Speaking about the publisher's global ambitions, Zhao says: "Quality, good topics, authoritative authors, and easy-to-read works are our core aims."

To promote influential authors is a way that Zhao suggests will help the publishing house. He cited the works of late authors Ji Xianlin, Fei Xiaotong and Qian Zhongshu as examples.

The publisher is very much in tune with recent trends. It is a typical example of one of the latest publishing trends of "publishing academic books for wider readership" with "simpler and smaller version of the thick books" written by authoratative scholars.

However, it also carries on with its mission of focusing on the most recent and in-depth research findings in social sciences.

For this, it is working on a 35-volume series called History of Contemporary Chinese Academic Thoughts.

The project, which began in 2008 and involves 400 experts, aims to record all the achievements in Chinese philosophy and the social sciences.

Some of the books are first-time publications in their specific area, like the one by Ma Dazheng about Chinese borders.

"I believe we are at the best time in our history," says Zhao. And it seems he has good reasons to say that.

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