On 17th April, our CEO George Lossius announced the launch of the Digital Gateway project at London Book Fair. The project provides Chinese libraries with their most significant digital publishing platform to date. In this article (first published by Bookbrunch in its London Book Fair China Market Insight supplement), George explains why the gateway represents a major opportunity to publishers in China and the West.

Last August, we launched Ingenta in China, partly because we knew that the company could play a vital role in the development of the country’s digital evolution and partly because we viewed this market to be incredibly significant and exciting, one that is likely to be the world leader in five to ten years.

China claims to have the world’s second largest digital publishing industry, it boasts astonishing levels of growth that outpace some of the most established global markets, which means China is well on its way to becoming a major force in publishing. The London Book Fair arrives at a critical moment when the Chinese government is actively encouraging its publishing industry to increase collaborations, especially in the digital arena, with Western publishing partners.

In addition to promoting international alliances, the Chinese Government also stated in its most recent five year plan that Chinese publishing should become more competitive and that export revenue is forecast to exceed $1 billion by 2015. This renewed, open and global outlook from China is good news for the international publishing community - both for exporting international content to Chinese shores and for the explosion of Chinese content across the globe.

Just weeks after having launched in China, we signed a landmark partnership with the China National Publications Import and Export Corporation (CNPIEC), the largest company fully licensed by the Chinese government to import publications, to join forces on a new project called the Digital Gateway. The concept was to deliver the largest digital content platform to Chinese libraries. Working with over 11,000 academic and public libraries, CNPIEC was actively looking to improve digital access to international content across these institutions and local content internationally, so our timing couldn’t have been better.

The aim of the Digital Gateway project was to create the most significant resource for international digital content in China on the pub2web platform. Yet it quickly became apparent that there was also scope for creating a portal to export Chinese content digitally across the globe, in line with the Chinese government’s strategy. Subsequently Ingentaconnect China was born. These dual Chinese projects have grown in size, significance, ambition and potential, so much so that we now expect to make millions of international online resources available in China and vice versa, opening up new avenues of collaboration on content and culture.

However, creating platforms to host digital content is only half the task. A coordinated, multi-national sales and marketing network is being established to promote the Digital Gateway to international and Chinese libraries as well as publishers, led by the new CEO of Ingenta China, Helen Sun. The idea is to help publishers launch into these potentially lucrative markets and ensure their content reaches these new audiences where they have had no penetration or exposure before.

These are exciting times to be working in China. The new middle classes are booming, literacy rates are healthier than ever and there are several new digital trends, particularly those being pioneered on the trade side by Cloudary, that are already proving to be extremely noteworthy.

Despite this, with the exception of journals, the academic side of China’s digital publishing landscape remains largely untapped. But, as in many things, the Chinese are in a perfect position to learn from the experiences of international developments over the last decade, drive growth in the digital academic field, and not only catch up, but also surpass the rest of the world, and quickly. These under-exploited opportunities, coupled with the propensity to grow very quickly and the enthusiasm to be the biggest and best makes the Chinese market a mouth-watering prospect for publishers and publishing service providers alike.

The Digital Gateway, asignificant digital development in Chinese publishing, goes live this week and is being launched by Ingenta and CNPIEC at The London Book Fair. It will become the most authoritative source for international academic content in China and will offer Western publishers a new route to market via access to libraries in China that never existed before. We are extremely excited about bringing these innovations to the publishing industry and look forward to playing a major role bridging the gap between East and West.