Book deal opens new chapter in nation's cultural exchange

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Book readers in China and the West will have a greater opportunity to experience each other's culture, after a key deal was signed between leading Chinese and British publishers.

Qingdao Publishing Group and Quarto Publishing agreed to co-edit and publish more books, as well as to collaborate on commissioning works on new subjects and ideas.

Following the deal, signed on Tuesday during this year's London Book Fair, Meng Mingfei, chairman of Qingdao Publishing Group, said his company also hoped to import some copyrights to China.

"Chinese publishers still have a lot to learn from their Western colleagues," said Meng, adding that more books were imported to China from the West than vice versa.

For the first time, China was the Market Focus country at the three-day fair, which ended on Wednesday. About 180 Chinese publishers had gathered in the middle of London's Earls Court Exhibition Center to showcase their range of books.

The deal between Qingdao and Quarto comes at a time when China is determined to make culture a key sector.

China's cultural sector will grow to become a pillar industry by 2015, Sun Zhijun, deputy minister of the publicity department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said earlier this year when releasing the Outline of China's Cultural Reform and Development in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15).

Robert Morley, creative director of Quarto Publishing, said he believed China would become "a huge market" for his company.

Quarto publishes 600 to 700 illustrated books a year on a variety of subjects, including art, crafts, gardening and lifestyle.

According to Morley, the group, together with Qingdao, is considering expanding its "1,001" series with a book on top 1,001 places to visit in China.

Meng also singled out the 1,001 series as books that Qingdao was interested in taking to China.

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