Friday, May 09, 2008

Challenging opportunities in China

I had a really interesting start to my day today, participating in a panel discussion hosted by the revitalised Society of Publishers in Asia (which, by the way, we just joined). I was lucky enough to be on the stage as the junior partner of Tom Gorman (pictured), the publisher of Fortune China and guru of China publishing with 35 years under his belt.

The discussion, ably moderated by the Wall Street Journal's Geoff Fowler, focused on challenges and opportunities for publishers in China. A few key take-aways:

  • Expect to work within the current regulatory environment for a while (and try to work out how to make money as things are);
  • There are plenty of opportunities in China. They're just not always easy to grasp and the market is now very competitive: Tom commented that, when his magazine launched a decade ago, he was third in the market. There are now 100 competing titles.
  • Print publishers are being somewhat shielded from the harsh realities of digital convergence by continued strong advertising growth. Unlike their counterparts in N. America and Europe, they are not being forced into taking some of the tough decisions. But, that doesn't mean that the trend is not happening in China.
  • Mobile may be the truly big publishing opportunity in China. Regular readers of this blog will not need any tips on who might have said that! I noted that I'm far from alone in watching this trend and that IDG, so often a leader in the business/specialist media category, is focusing on the "third screen".

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