News & Events


Posted on 06 Nov 2019 in CLTalk

At the beginning of June 2019, my manager at Macmillan Education (where I work as Senior Project Lead for customized language learning products) sent around a flyer on behalf of the Confucius Institute at Oxford Brookes University. It advertised a Young Professional’s Trip to China, with the promise of an exciting opportunity for early career professionals to be part of an organized visit to Shanghai and Beijing!

Offering the chance to network with new contacts, as well as to go on cultural visits to the Great Wall of China and to the Forbidden City, I was certainly keen! Very often I work with prestigious Chinese educational companies and private language groups to adapt our English Language materials into bespoke products so I knew it would be great to experience this first hand!

For my application, I wrote a 500 word statement outlining why I should be selected to attend and what contribution I would bring to the group. My enthusiasm for the trip and its relevance to my role made this statement very easy to produce!

Two months later, I was on a plane to China. After a very long journey, I arrived safely and met the group of 12 young publishers (up to the ages of 40) on the trip. Our publishing sectors ranged from academic, to trade fiction and non fiction, magazines and journals whilst our roles varied between publishers, editors, marketers, and social media columnists. This made for an extremely diverse group with whom we could share ideas and form networks  before we had even met our Chinese counterparts.


With introductions out of the way, the trip could begin. We had 14 busy days ahead of us! As we packed so much in, I thought I would summarise these activities into three main categories.


Book Fairs and Book shops

We spent a day at the Shanghai Book Fair and three days at the Beijing International Book Fair. These really allowed us to get to grips with the size of the Chinese publishing industry as well as focus on the trends in both print and digital publishing across the region. These included the rise of audiobooks, the continuing shift from print to digital based learning (including the focus on virtual reality) and the use of design to really create a niche for print products as digital offerings grow more advanced.


We also had the chance to conduct market research in some of Beijing’s biggest bookshops such as Page One . Open 24 hours a day and more than 5 stories high, they were adorned with beautiful bright  lights and tall trees, , had floors dedicated purely to children’s reading or cookery and culture and offered numerous spaces for reading and relaxing. This really showed the size of the industry and the popularity of reading within Chinese culture.

Meeting with Chinese publishers

One of the most of enriching parts of the trip  were  our visits to  numerous Chinese publishers including the SDX joint publishing company, East China Normal University Press, and Beijing’s Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press. Throughout these meetings we were invited to give formal presentations on our companies and roles, while listening to presentations given by young Chinese publishers in similar positions. We were also invited to take part in panel discussions with other industry experts.

In addition, we had the opportunity to meet informally including enjoying a tea ceremony with the SDX publishing group and cocktail reception at the Guangxi Normal University Press, where we discussed the future of publishing, and the internal difficulties faced by academic publishing companies. These were really very similar to ours and included the transition from print to digital as well as the pros and cons of outsourcing both editorial and design work.







  1. Cultural experiences and exchanges.


Although the trip was very busy, we definitely ensured we left a little time for soaking up the beautiful history and culture of China. This including visiting the Yu Garden, the Forbidden City and of course the Great Wall These were once in a life time opportunities that I will forever remember and cherish as well as brilliant chances to understand the history behind China and its publishing. One of my personal highlights was visiting the China Printing Museum in Beijing, where we met with a professor of Chinese printing. Here we   learnt about the history of Chinese publishing and got to handle some of the oldest books in in the world!


Another amazing element of the trip for me was the delicious Chinese food we got to experience – group meals for lunch and dinner were organised for each day of the trip and through these we got to sample a large number of Chinese dishes and cuisines.


To summarise, this truly was  a once in a lifetime opportunity, where I learnt not only about the Chinese publishing industry but also gained valuable career skills and made life-long friends.