Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by Michael Keane
Chapter 26: Between sustaining and disruptive innovation: China’s digital publishing industry in the age of mobile Internet
Among China’s cultural and creative industries digital publishing has the potential to change the boundaries that have previously constrained reading publics in China. Most of these boundaries are administrative, intended to channel the Chinese reading public into state approved formats and genres. Digital publishing, and more recently mobile Internet reading practices, are challenging institutional arrangements and generating disruptive technological innovations, not only in respect to publishing business models, but also administration, censorship, and reading cultures. In changing the game rules of connecting readers, content, and publishers, they broaden the scope of genres, and in doing so provide seeds of digital activism. Yet, while there is cause for optimism, there is uncertainty about the extent to which disruptive technologies can transform established publishing models and how the relations between digital publishing, reading publics and digital activism will play out. Uncertainty exists especially when the core consumer market of mobile publishing is the diaosi, a demographic sometimes referred to a ‘lost generation’.
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