Xi's book in limelight at festival in London

Updated: 2015-10-21 14:08

By ANDREW MOODY in London(China Daily)

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President Xi Jinping's bestselling book was center stage at a packed event in London to promote Chinese books.

The Governance of China, which has sold 5.2 million copies worldwide, was being promoted alongside books on Chinese art and culture, as well as contemporary classics such as Jiang Rong's Wolf Totem, at the launch of the London China Book Festival on Monday night.

Many of those attending were looking to snap up copies of the book as a souvenir of the president's visit.

Ru Jing, managing director of Cypress Books, the book's UK distributor, which is part of China International Publishing Group, said it has been a surprise hit for a political book.

"Sales are really good. It is being bought both by Chinese and British people alike here. It reflects the growing interest in Chinese books generally," she said.

The festival, which runs until Oct 28 at 20 bookstores around the capital, including Waterstone's at Harrods bookstore,was officially launched by Guo Weimin, the visiting viceminister of China's State Council Information Office.

"We have the opportunity to display and sell the top Englishlanguage titles from the country's leading publishers," he said.

"This kind of event can help the British people understand China and can facilitate better exchanges betweenthe publishing communities of the two countries."

Despite the success of Xi's book, Chinese books, likemany translated works, still face a hard time in the UK market, compared with those fromcountries such as India that were originally written in English.

Gavin Pilgrim, generalmanager ofHatchards Piccadilly bookstore, said he hoped the festival would generate more interest in Chinese books.

"You have an uphill struggle if you are a Chinese publisher or writer to get heard in the UK. As a result of this festival, we have had Chinese fiction that I had never heard of coming into this store.

"I think it will generate interest in Chinese literature, and I think that is the point of it. I do think the knowledge of British people of China, apart from those who have been there, is still very limited and the rise of China has actually caught them out."

Professor Andrew Wheatcroft, who has been a consultant to Chinese publishers for 10 years, said he believed that one of the problems is that they do not know how to make their product physically attractive to customers in the UK and elsewhere.

He has worked on books such as The Great Chinese Gardens, which was written by Xiaofeng Fang, published by CYPI Press and beautifully presented. It has run to several editions and been a minor publishing success.

"They need to be made like the best books in theWesternmarket and also with some Chinese quality, which makes them appealing."

Wheatcroft believed it could be a real commercial opportunity for Chinese publishers, which find it difficult to get big prices for books in the domestic market compared with what they could fetch in the UK.