Following on from the conference in Shanghai (which you can read about in my blog post here), I flew up to Beijing, where I met Tommi. There, we spent a busy few days attending meetings arranged by our local Chinese sales reps, Ben, Annie and Monica of CPS. China is one of our biggest markets so it was a really valuable opportunity to meet with customers and learn more about the Chinese book market.
Our two biggest customers in China are China National Publications Import & Export Group (CNPIEC) and China Educational Publishers Import & Export Corporation Ltd. (CEPIEC). Given how similar the two names are, I have always struggled to keep them separate in my head! But now, having visited their offices and spent time getting to know each company and some of its staff individually, I have a much clearer idea of these two major customers, how their businesses work and how ours interacts with them. At the meetings we discussed matters such as the book market in China in general, import of our books to China, their customers’ preferences (paperback, hardback or ebooks) and their ebook platforms, as well as our new books and catalogues, of course!
As well as visiting booksellers, we also visited the public library in Tianjin and Beijing International Studies University Library. There, we met with acquisitions staff and were introduced to the libraries, discussed the collections that they hold and how best to serve them with information about our forthcoming books. We also learned about library budgets and buying periods and how they make their book choices. These meetings provided us with useful insights into the needs and interests of our customers, as well as enjoyable visits to Chinese libraries…I was delighted to discover that libraries smell the same the world over, that wonderful smell of exciting books waiting to be read!