Personally, I was struck by the warmth of the people I met. It was very exciting to meet dignitaries from Phoenix Publishing & Media Group and China Publishing Group, which are among the largest publishing companies in the world. But it was heartening to meet a number of former students who were so grateful to Professor Raskin and Professor Lian for what they learned at Pace.
I was lucky to have a tour guide in Beijing who worked at China Publishing Group named Yin “Ling” Mengling. I spoke with her at length about some of the great opportunities available in publishing associations in New York. We also discussed a book called Designing Your Life, which I recommend people use to think about their career and life goals.
After we parted, she paid for her own overnight train to Wuhan to attend the weekend conference and take Professor Lian, Professor Raskin and me around Wuhan University. She has since started a Literary Salon speaker series for her friends and colleagues, which she said I inspired her to do. Mark Fretz, who also attended the conference as part of the delegation from Pace, spoke at the inaugural session. I am very proud of Ling and happy I was able to touch her life.
Another thing that struck me in China that I hadn’t fully appreciated before was the giant contribution that Professor Raskin and Professor Lian have made to publishing education in China. Professor Lian was actually one of the founding members of the first publishing program in China at Wuhan University and was instrumental in starting the partnership between Pace and Wuhan U. Professor Raskin has made extremely strong relationships with the major publishing companies in China and, because of this, the companies have hand-picked executives to come train at Pace every year. (And they were able to start the Confucius Institute at Pace University, where I took Chinese classes before I went.) I have a newfound respect for the hard work they have done to build such strong ties.
At the conference, my talk was on innovation. I spoke about projects in the publishing industry, including grass-roots efforts, where employees at any level can test their idea and pitch it to management. I was surprised that I was asked how an employee would be reprimanded if they had an idea that failed. I explained the value of a learning organization, where failing fast (and small) is a good thing. I was happy to see that they were thinking about how this idea could be implemented in their environment, and I hope in the future that organizations encourage their employees to submit ideas.
While Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites are blocked in China, the country is very technologically advanced. Most people use a platform called WeChat, which is a combination of the functionality of many programs in the U.S. like texting, FaceTime/Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and many others. (WeChat was created by TenCent, a phone company.) Many restaurants have you order and pay through your phone with Alipay, which is from the e-commerce company Alibaba, which has 423 million annual active buyers and about 80 per cent market share of e-commerce in China. There are QR codes everywhere on posters, bus shelters, ads, and menus, and they are very useful in connecting quickly through WeChat and other systems. I made many new contacts and friends in China and hope to stay in touch through WeChat.
I also visited many bustling bookstores in China. It was incredible to see the multi-story homage to the books owned by Phoenix Publishing & Media Group. I also visited a few branches of the Librarie Avant-Garde, including the famous one in a former bomb shelter/parking garage that has a beatnik vibe; a rustic one in a lush park, where you could sink into a comfy chair and feel like you were in a log cabin surrounded by books; and one on the Purple Mountain that sold only poetry books with lots of little rooms to explore. I felt right at home!
It was a fascinating trip, and I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to go! It really opened my eyes to different perspectives and I learned a lot about international publishing, innovation, and myself.
In September, Pace University’s MS in Publishing program hosted a delegation from the Beijing-based China Publishing Group (中国出版集团公司). Formed in 2002 when China joined the World Trade Organization, CPG now publishes more than 16,000 new titles annually, including ebooks and audiovisuals. It also delivers information services online and in print. According to Publishers Weekly, CPG reported revenues of US$1.4 billion, profits of US$138.5 million, and total assets of US$2.7 billion in 2015.
CPG is headed by Mr. Tan Yue (谭跃), a big advocate of managerial training and development as a source of innovation and competitive advantage. CPG conducts ongoing scientific research in publishing technology so that its printing and copying facilities remain state of the art for both print and electronic media.
This is Pace’s fourth executive program for CPG. Participating were Mr. Tan’s top managers from fourteen business units:
China National Publications Import & Export Corp. (CNPIEC), which oversees the import of foreign books, the licensing of Chinese-language translation rights to foreign titles, and the export of Chinese-language books and translation rights to China’s best titles
China Publishing & Media Holdings Corporation
China Publishing & Media Journal
China Translation Corporation
Commercial Press International, Ltd., established in 1897, the oldest publishing house in modern China
CPG Digital Media Co., Ltd. (including its audiobook division)
Encyclopedia of China Publishing House, Ltd., led by the head of the delegation, Mr. LIU Guohui (刘国辉)
Orient Publishing Center
People’s Literature Publishing House
Rong Bao Zhai Publishing House
SDX Joint Publishing Company, Ltd.
Xinhua United Distribution Group Corporation, which oversees the Xinhua Bookstore chain of over 200 stores
Zhonghua Book Company established in 1912
Co-directed by professors Xiaochuan Lian and Kirsten Sandberg, the three-week program focused on the future of publishing, particularly trends in digital strategy, content marketing, and operations; digital rights management, intellectual property law, smart contracts, and blockchain technology; and innovation through incubation, integration, partnership, and acquisition.
Bloomberg, RosettaBooks, and Simon & Schuster each hosted the delegation for tea, tour, and talk. Guest lecturers included publishing professionals at the top of their game (listed alphabetically):
The executives received their certificates of program completion from Sherman Raskin, professor and director of the publishing program, Dr. Nira Herrmann, dean of Dyson College, and Dr. Uday Sukhatme, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs for Pace University. Assisting throughout the program were graduate students Mr. Li Zhongke and Miss Wang Qingke, with support from their classmates Anna Bailey, Kevin Mercado, and Breana Swinehart.
The Publishing Program is once again hosting a group of executives from Phoenix Publishing & Media Group (PPMG), one of the largest publishers in China. Professors Baron, Lian, and Soares have organized an exciting series of speakers and site visits to facilitate an exchange of information with printers and publishers in New York. One of the speakers during the first week of their visit was Patrick Henry, a journalist and author, who is executive editor of whattheythink.com and PrintCEO.com, two influential websites for the printing industry.
After his meeting with the group, he blogged about his experience. Here’s an except:
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to brief a group of visiting Chinese publishers and printers on the state of the industry as experienced by their counterparts in the U.S. Our discussion highlighted the similarities that link China’s and America’s publishing sectors amidst profound market shifts in both countries. It also illuminated a few notable differences that distinguish our industry’s attitude toward change from theirs…