China has for the first time published a book online before it is published on paper.
With the development of online reading, publishing houses usually publish books first, then convert some books into electronic versions and sell them online, said Pan Xianli, deputy editor-in-chief from the Writers Publishing House.
But this time, it is the other way round.
The publishing house, which edited and published the e-book "Not Angel, Not Devil," will publish the paper version 90 days after the e-book's launch. The electronic version costs 6 yuan (0.75 U.S. dollar) because it saves the cost of paper, printing and transportation, while the paper book will be sold at 19 yuan (2.4 U.S. dollars), according to the publishing plan.
"The launch of the electronic version first is a trial for us," Pan said. "We hope the electronic version and paper version will establish a good interaction for sales."
A national survey on people's reading habits in the Internet era, conducted by Beijing Founder Electronics Co. Ltd, showed 27.8 percent of Chinese citizens were accustomed to reading books and articles on the Internet in 2005, while the figures in 1999 and 2003 were 3.7 percent and 18.3 percent respectively.
China currently has 110 million netizens and the number is growing steadily.
By May 2006, China had more than 400 publishing houses operating online publishing businesses.
Zhou Jin, vice president of Founder Electronics, which provided technical support to the publishing of the e-book, said that publishing houses were not very active in publishing e-books back in 2001.
"But we had established cooperation with more than 100 publishing houses by the end of 2005. It takes about three months for a published book to have an electronic version online," Zhou said.
"The launch of this book is an important signal for the publishing industry that electronic publishing will play a major role in the future," Zhou said.
"Not Angel, Not Devil" set in a Chinese university, is about two sisters' different attitudes towards life and love. The author, Zhu Xingchen, said that she thinks publishing the e-book first won't affect the sales of her book. "Internet users can read a few paragraphs online before their purchase, which I think will promote the sales of my book."