China published 500,000 book titles in 2016, totaling 9.04 billion copies and ranking first in the world on both counts.
However, the size of the publishing industry cannot necessarily guarantee its strength. Globally recognized publications from China are scarce and most of the country's publishing houses are small with limited competitiveness.
Compared with newspapers and magazines, which are facing competition from online platforms and seeking to align with new media to survive, the book publishing industry lacks the motivation to venture into new media since it can manage to sustain itself regardless. Most digitalization efforts by publishing companies are passive responses to administrative orders or the result of industry pressure. There is little fundamental integration of the traditional publishing industry with new media in China.
In the future, Internet and digital technologies will have an even more profound influence on people's lives. Mobile phones and other digital terminals will become the main platforms for reading. People will make use of their fragmented time to read light-hearted and entertaining content on these platforms. Only condensed, widely circulated and interactive content produced by integrating traditional and new media can satisfy people's needs for reading in the new era.
The Internet age doesn't mean an end to the traditional publishing industry, but the latter should seek to innovate itself through fusion with new technologies and new means of communication. They should develop new products by using mobile terminals, Big Data and virtual reality.
Only by doing so can it provide satisfying services for readers.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Guangming Daily on June 28)