Sinolingua is a publishing miracle. This small press, with only six editors, publishes 40 to 50 books a year but its sales of overseas publishing rights were the 2nd highest in China in 2007 and 2008.
Sinolingua was the first Chinese publishing house to specialize in Chinese-language learning materials. In the past 20 years, it has published hundreds of titles and made over 400 overseas publishing deals – in the process making a huge contribution to introducing Chinese culture to the world. Its sales of overseas publishing rights have netted the company profits of more than 1 million yuan in the past two years alone.
Secrets of the Sinolingua's miracle
Sinolingua sells rights to its works in many overseas markets. Its Talk Chinese Series, for example has been published in English, Russian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Arabic.
Starting out with conventional books, the company has expanded into multi-media products, such as audio, video, electronic books and dictionaries, which make learning Chinese more interesting and have proved another lucrative overseas market.
Sinolingua was quick to grasp the importance of overseas market research. It has developed winning market strategies by focusing on what foreign readers want and constantly comparing itself to the competition, said Han Hui, chief editor of Sinolingua.
Han said planning ahead is another key to success. Sinolingua sells the overseas publishing rights in advance of publication and provides world-class service to foreign distributors. Market research and modern management systems have also contributed to cementing Sinolingua's position as the leading brand in Chinese language learning materials.
Sales of publishing rights
China's growing economy has aroused overseas interest in the country and its language and Sinolingua has benefited from the spreading fever for learning Chinese.
One of the first Chinese publishers to enter the Russian market, Sinolingua signed 40 deals in the country in 2006 alone, massively boosting its market share.
In 2006, Sinolingua made 90,000 euros from a deal that authorized an Italian publisher to bring out copies of Interactive Chinese.
In 2007, Sinolingua sold the overseas rights to its Talk Chinese Series in four languages in advance of publication, which was a breakthrough in terms of rights sales.
In 2008 and 2009, Sinolingua sold the rights to three of its publications in Arabic and Russian.
In the last three years, Sinolingua has expanded into new overseas markets concluding 12 rights deals in Indonesia and expanding into the Arabic speaking world. In 2008, Sinolingua signed a deal with publishers in Latvia.
Confidence in the future
Sinolingua will be exhibiting its multi-media teaching publication I Speak Chinese at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair. Although demand from foreign publishers has dropped because of the global financial crisis, Sinolingua are confident that in the long term their sales will continue to grow.
But the company faces challenges. As more and more people sign up for Chinese courses, international publishing giants are looking for ways to break into the market. But Han believes the Chinese are the experts in teaching Chinese.
Han said Sinolingua is well prepared to meet future challenges. The company will continue to improve its products and focus on practical approaches to learning and teaching Chinese. It also plans to hire foreign experts and strengthen cooperation with foreign publishers and the Chinese Language Council International. And the company will continue its expansion into the non-English speaking market.
(China.org.cn by Yang Xi, September 23, 2009)