China Publishing Group, which had Rmb3.9bn in revenues last year, is a cornerstone of Beijing’s policy to keep publishing under state control while allowing private investors a limited, but legal, role.
“There will definitely be significant changes in our international operations,” Mr Nie said. “At least we can learn from some multinational publishers from developed countries, like Oxford University Press and Harper Collins … We will not just be there to propagate Chinese culture, but also to run a commercial business.”
Last year, the General Administration of Press and Publications, the regulator, promised to dilute the state publishing houses’ monopoly by allowing private companies to produce books for the first time in more than half a century.
Private publishers have long outperformed state rivals in spotting and producing best-selling manuscripts, but they operate in a legal grey area. Chinese law excludes them from publishing books, so they have to buy or rent International Standard Book Numbers from the state companies. Mr Nie said that he would seek to greatly expand this kind of partnership.