FLTRP: a complete educational service provider in China
Tell us something about the role of FLTRP in popularizing foreign language education in China?
Zhang Siying with Varsha VermaZhang: Aiming for higher goals, we have been actively exploring innovative transformation and expanding our business scope. Educational training and service, online courses have become our new strengths.
New Concept English, first published by us in 1996, is still selling very well today. It is the bestseller in the English language learning market. In 2001, FLTRP and Macmillan Education jointly complied and published New Standard English, based on the currently new curriculum issued by the Ministry of Education. So far, more than 500 million copies have been sold.
In the past decade, FLTRP has provided training to about one million college and school teachers. The annual FLTRP National English Debating Competition was first held in 1997, and there after attracting students from hundreds of universities every year. FLTRP initiated the annual National English Public Speaking Contest in 2002, the National English Writing Contest in 2013 and the National English Reading Contest in 2015.
What have been the changes in the industry since the inception of FLTRP?
Zhang: Over the past 36 years, we think the biggest change in the industry has been the transform from print copies to the digital ones. And embracing the digital age, FLTRP also made endeavors in developing new products like online learning materials, the E-pen, Apps, etc to provide better, easy to learn and more advanced services to our users.
Describe FLTRP as a complete educational service provider.
Zhang: FLTRP started as a language education publisher, and has expanded into more subject areas. The formats of our products have extended from print to digital and mobile. And the age groups of our learners now cover pre-school kids to adults.
FLTRP has now built itself into a language publisher to an educational solutions provider. We provide training courses, online education services, assessment services to target users, as well as organize types of competitions including English debating, speaking and writing competitions.
What kind of books are published and in what languages?
Zhang: Our publications range from academic and educational works, to humanities and social sciences, natural sciences, and to the mass reading and children’s books. We now publish in 47 languages.
Which are the most popular languages and why?
Zhang: The most popular language of all is, of course, English, since it is the most frequently used language in the world, and has highest number as far as speaking is concerned. Other major European and Asian languages, like French, Japanese, German, Korean, Spanish, and Russian, are also quite popular in China.
How many books have been published so far?
Zhang: We now have a backlist of more than 9,000 titles, and we publish more than 1,000 new titles each year.
What are the average print runs of these books?
Zhang: Print runs may vary with different titles. For textbooks used in the school system, the print runs can be over 10 thousand, while for less popular titles like the teacher’s handbooks, the first print runs would be around 1,000.
Also, are these available as ebooks as well?
Zhang: This also depends on the types of books. For textbooks, we usually provide E-pen applicable print copies to facilitate users with more ready-to-use audio materials, and we also provide online resources and platforms to assist teaching and learning. For readers, we often provide ebooks.
What is the process of selection for authors? And how do you ensure that you publish authentic information?
Zhang: Our process is in fact quite simple: we first establish our publishing plan according to the demands of our readers and the local market, and then we find the suitable potential authors for the projects. We ask all potential authors to write sample units, and make evaluations according to the quality of the samples before making final decisions on the right authors to employ.
To ensure that we publish authentic information, we always cooperate with leading foreign publishers and first-class authors. We also train our editors, and send them to various language-teaching related conferences to get the cutting-edge information.
What are your views on the increasing competition of digital publishing to printed ones? Do you think it is a threat to the print? Why/Why not?
Zhang: We cannot deny that the competition between digital and traditional publishing is getting fierce. But we think that instead of being a threat to the print, digital publishing can be a very useful supplementary tool to the print if applied in the right way. Digitized materials are more convenient, and can make learning more vivid and interesting, and make teaching management more efficient.
Since you also publish dictionaries and other reference books, how has digital publishing affected the sales of these books?
Zhang: When the digital age first came to affect the publishing circle, the sales of dictionaries and reference books did suffer from a rapid decrease. But the negative effects only lie in the format of publishing, not the contents. What we need to do is to adapt the formats to a more convenient form, so that readers are given the freedom of shifting from print to digital.
What about your distribution system for offline and online sales?
Zhang: We have our traditional offline distribution system, and are working with major online stores in China. We are also building our own online flagship store.