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Updated: 2011-12-16 09:01

By Lu Chang (China Daily)

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Many foreign magazines are distributed at newsstands in Beijing, but they still face numerous challenges. [Wang Jing / China Daily]

A dying industry in the west is flourishing in china and foreign magazines are taking notice

While the magazine industry struggles in most nations across the globe, the industry in China is soaring and a number of well-known magazines and publishing houses are looking to expand or make its first foray into the second-largest economy in the world.

In November, Bloomberg Businessweek relaunched in China and saw sales of its magazine fly off the racks to the tune of 350,000 copies. RCS MediaGroup, the Italian publishing company formerly known as Rizzoli, also says they may launch a new magazine in near future.

Profits in the magazine publishing industry in China exploded by 50 percent to 1.9 billion yuan ($298.7 million, 222.8 million euros) last year from 2009, according to the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). Sales climbed 4.1 percent to 15.7 billion yuan.

The relaunch of the Chinese edition of Bloomberg Businessweek on Nov 11 is a testament to the confidence that several foreign magazines have in China's media market.

The magazine has a license agreement with Modern Media Group, one of China's biggest print media players that also publishes the lifestyle magazine Eleven.

"We have a long term commitment to doing business in China. We believe that success in any market depends upon the quality, indispensability and globalism of the magazine you are publishing," says Paul Bascobert, president of Bloomberg Businessweek.

One of the main factors that have depreciated many magazine industries in countries such as the United States has been the lack of advertising. Not so in China. Thomas Gorman, chairman and editor-in-chief of Fortune China, says in sharp contrast to many other markets, print advertising is not in a crisis in China.

Total spending on advertising in the nation is expected to rise 15.2 percent to $54.8 billion in 2011 from the previous year. It's uncertain how much of that advertising is attracted by foreign magazines.

For the first three quarters of this year, revenues for magazines grew at a rate of 15 percent to $2.04 billion, according to Beijing-based CTR media market research, a joint venture between China International Television Corporation and Taylor Nelson Sofres.

"I'm optimistic about continued robust growth prospects for strong brands which implement effectively across print and other platforms," Gorman says.

He says circulation at Fortune China has grown and now stands at 182,000, a considerable jump from a circulation of 50,000 when it first launched in 1996. Published 19 times a year, Fortune China's core mission is centered around Fortune's best known brand: the Fortune Global 500.

He recalls when Fortune China was launched in 1996, there were almost no business magazines in China. Today, there are 150.

A total of 9,884 magazine titles were published in China last year, according to GAPP, which approves any and all magazine titles before it can go to print. The number of magazines by foreign publishers accounted for less than 10 percent of the total, says Li Wenbin, senior analyst at research company Century Chinese International Media Consultation Inc.

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