shuhao


shuhao
(book numbers)
A shuhao (literally book number) is a registration number required to publish any book in China. Shuhao are allocated by the Ministry of Press and Publications (MPP) to recognized publishers as a means of controlling book publishing in a country where it is still considered a politically sensitive industry. Without a book number it is illegal to publish. In the post-Mao reform era, the commercialization of book publishing has also led publishers to realize how lucrative can be the publication of controversial titles, making the authorities all the more enthusiastic in their efforts to control book numbers.
Publishing houses must still be state-owned enterprises in China although the country’s recent entry to the World Trade Organization has seen some relaxation on the rules pertaining to Sino-foreign joint ventures.
Book numbers, which are also required for printed publications other than books such as calendars, posters and so on, have long been the focus of illicit trading and exchanges among publishers. Shuhao are allocated in blocks to publishers according to their expected production. The rigid system of allocation, however, inevitably leads to some publishers having excess book numbers in some years while others experience a shortfall. Publishers with surplus book numbers have then found it convenient, and occasionally lucrative, to sell off their extra numbers to others. The MPP has tried with difficulty to control this trade over the years.
KEVIN LATHAM

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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