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All booked up with every place to go

Updated: 2012-03-22 09:57
By Yang Guang ( China Daily)

Jackie Huang became an instant star after her speech on the emergence of book agents in China and how they develop their business, at the Australia-China Publishing Forum last week in Beijing.

The chief representative of the London-headquartered Andrew Nurnberg Associates International's Beijing Office has been in the publishing industry for more than 20 years.

Since she joined the agency and started its Beijing office in 2002, Huang and her team have introduced more than 3,000 Western books to China, including such bestsellers as Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese and Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.

The copyrights for most recent heavyweight title her agency represents, Yu Hua's China in Ten Words, has been sold for 10 languages.

Huang was assigned to work as an editor specializing in translated English books at Beijing Publishing House after graduating from university in 1990.

All booked up with every place to go

Jackie Huang is chief representative of the Andrew Nurnberg Associates International's Beijing Office. Photo provided to China Daily

She was in the audience when British literary agents Andrew Nurnberg and Ian Taylor were invited by the General Administration of Press and Publication to give a presentation in Beijing in 1995.

"It was my first time to find out what an agent is and how an agent works in foreign countries," Huang says.

China joined the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Universal Copyright Convention in 1992.

But it wasn't until the mid-1990s that Chinese publishing houses began to recognize purchasing copyrights could be profitable and actively participated in international book fairs and established contacts with foreign publishers.

Now there are more than 20 State-owned copyright agencies across the country.

After gaining 10 years of working experience in the Chinese publishing industry, Huang went to the UK to further her studies in the industry.

She learned only much later that Andrew Nurnberg, founder of Andrew Nurnberg Associates International, had wanted her to join and asked her tutor at Oxford Brookes University to pay attention to her.

After obtaining a master's degree in publishing a year later, Huang joined Andrew Nurnberg. Now she manages a team of 14, working to provide publishers with updated rights information, as well as sales and marketing support of books represented by the agency.

"Compared with European, North American and even other Asian countries, the introduction of foreign pop literature in China has lagged far behind during the past decade," Huang says. "Most of the foreign books we have introduced are literature, serious non-fiction, business books and even academic books."

But she says the situation is changing. Statistics from her agency's sales reports in 2011 suggest that the top sellers are children's picture books, which "just couldn't sell four years ago".

The agency started representing Chinese writers three years ago, when she helped an international publisher get in touch with a Taiwan publishing house for the copyrights of Eileen Chang, whose works became sought-after following the success of Ang Lee's film Lust, Caution.

She is now preparing for the forthcoming London Book Fair, when she will promote Mao Dun Literature Prize winner Bi Feiyu's Massage, as well as Xu Zechen's Running through Zhongguancun, whose English edition is being translated by Eric Abrahamsen.

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