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New Chapter for Book Business

Representatives from local branches of the official Xinhua Bookstore and private bookstores from across China crowded the Beijing International Exhibition Center yesterday to attend the 2002 Beijing book fair.

As the first of its kind held since China's World Trade Organization entry, the event also attracted most of the country's nearly 600 publishing firms.

Huang Guorong, secretary-general of the fair's organizing committee, said: "The fair provides an opportunity for publishers and bookstores to meet each other."

However, this is only one of the fair's functions. Unlike previous fairs, more publishing houses are using this year's event to enhance their reputation among wholesalers, retailers and ordinary readers.

Zhonghua Book Company, which will celebrate its 90th anniversary this year, has rented 15 booths at the fair and made them into a corridor lined with bookcases.

Some publishing firms even employed people to wear paper clothes to attract attention.

Huang said: "Many Chinese publishing firms have developed a strong brand awareness. Apart from selling books, they also work to build themselves into brand names."

This can be seen more in the books being published. Compared with years ago, books are getting more market-orientated.

The Yangtze River Arts and Culture Publishing House set an example for its fellow traders.

Last year, the company scored a hit with its Cloth Tiger series of novels. Cloth Tiger has become a symbol of first-class books in the minds of many readers.

(China Daily January 11, 2002)

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