Publishing in China, Baby boom to business boom
The end of China’s one-child policy is expected to drive children’s book sales, says Jason Yuan.
On October 29, the Chinese government announced the end of its long-standing onechild policy. Every couple is now allowed to have two children. The one-child policy was put in effect more than 35 years ago, to control the fast-growing Chinese population. However, an aging population, shrinking workforce, and slowing economy led the government to reconsider its position.
The government announced a modification of the one-child policy in 2013, a change that allowed parents who were themselves both only children to have two children. But according to authorities, only about one million couples of the 11 million eligible applied to have a second child. Many parents blamed the complicated process and the associated red tape for the low response rate; now that it’s been simplified, birth rates are expected to increase dramatically.
Children’s books going strong
Experts anticipate that the number of new births per year will increase by between three million and eight million after the new policy takes effect, from its current annual level of 16 million. According to an often-cited figure, the average Chinese family spends $800–$3,000 per year on their children. Spending on children’s education is the second-largest financial outlay for parents, and it includes books—indicating a promising future for children’s books in the country.
Another encouraging sign for the future of children’s books is the large portion of young people who read. According to the 2015 Twelfth Annual Nationwide Reading Survey from the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication (CAPP), 89 percent of parents with children under eight years old read to their kids daily (23.6 minutes per day, on average); 59 percent of children under eight years old read books; 95 percent of children between the ages 9 and 13 read; and 88 percent of young adults between the ages 14 and 17 read. Retail revenue numbers reflect the high reading rate for children.
Dangdang, one of the largest online book retailers in China, sold 110 million copies of children’s books in 2014, worth around $2.3 billion CNY ($370 million). On November 11, 2014 (known as Singles Day, the Chinese version of Black Friday), Dangdang sold almost 56 million CNY ($9 million) worth of children’s books. Imported children’s books are also on the rise; according to Amazon, imported sales at amazon.cn increased dramatically in 2013, increasing 45 times over 2012.
Changes to meet rising interest
The size of China’s children’s book market has been growing, and with the new baby policy, sales of children’s books are expected to jump. To meet the higher demand, Chinese publishers are buying more rights for children’s books from around the world, and international collaborations are also becoming more common in China.
Chinese trade book fairs are also rising in importance. “Our fair has made a few changes to better adapt to the growing market and help our exhibitors to grow their business,” says Lin Liying, director of the Beijing International Book Fair. In 2015, BIBF set up a dedicated 1,56,000 sq ft Children’s Hall to help children’s publishers exhibit more effectively. The new changes were well received by the exhibitors. During the fair, more than 1,000 rights agreements were signed. Lin adds, “We also organised our first picture book exhibition, with over 10,000 titles in 13 languages. The new generation of parents is well educated. It is common for parents to buy and read imported books. The exhibition attracted over 40,000 visitors during our fair. We hope the exhibition will further promote the imported children’s book market in China. We are working on more events and strategies to ass ist both Chinese and international children’s publishers to prepare and thrive for the new baby boom.”
The article was sponsored and written by China National Publications Import & Export (Group) Corp. For more information about BIBF, contact Jason Yuan at: yuanjiayang@ bibf.net.