Just as a larger number of foreign publishers have been eyeing China-themed books, Chinese publishers have been looking to raise the number of books they sell overseas.
Last year, more than 9,800 publication copyrights were sold to foreign buyers, according to a report published by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television in July. In 2012, the figure was about 7,800.
The ratio between copyright imports and exports fell to 1.6-to-1 last year from 1.9-to-1 in 2012.
Zhang Haiou has worked in publishing for more than 30 years, but in the past decade she has focused on promoting Chinese books overseas.
"In the beginning, we were just involved in copyright trade with foreign publishers," said Zhang, the editor-in-chief of New World Press, a subsidiary of the China International Publishing Group.
The limitations of such trade became obvious over the years: Chinese editors learned little about the tastes of overseas readers, while foreign editors failed to develop an understanding of Chinese books.
"Although our editors attend book fairs in London and in Frankfurt, Germany, every year, it's still not enough for us to get a sense of which (Chinese) books will sell well in foreign markets," Zhang said.
She added that a Turkish publisher once asked her to recommend good Chinese editors to help screen the many book pitches his company received from publishers in China. The request prompted Zhang to create a closer channel to work with counterparts overseas.
In August, New World Press signed an agreement with Cengage Learning, a publishing group in the United States that focuses on educational titles, to set up an editorial department dedicated to developing Chinese books and help editors on both sides to discuss coproduction projects.
The group holds monthly video conferences and plans to publish five to eight books about China every year in the future.
It's one of eight projects the China Book Editorial Department at New World Press has initiated with publishing houses overseas, including GBD Books of India and the Dar Al Shorouk Publishing House of Egypt, since October last year
Similar undertakings have also been developed at the China Translation and Publishing House, a member of China International Publishing.
Zhang Gaoli, editor-in-chief of the China Translation and Publishing House, said the company has signed memorandums of understanding with seven publishers overseas this year to jointly establish editorial departments to specialize in the planning, editing and publishing of China-themed books.