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Taylor & Francis Advanced Learning Managing Director, Jeremy North: enabling Chinese academic works to reach readers around the world
Wang Yuchen
/ Categories: News, Culture

Taylor & Francis Advanced Learning Managing Director, Jeremy North: enabling Chinese academic works to reach readers around the world

“Our focus now is working with key publishing partners in China to better understand the needs of the local academic community, and to publish more Chinese voices, so that more scholars from around the world can benefit from the wealth of Chinese academic achievement and the wisdom of Chinese society, culture and history.” said Jeremy North, Managing Director Advanced Learning at Taylor & Francis.

Bridging western learners with Chinese Academic Works

Taylor & Francis, one of the largest publishing groups in the world, has been committed to the publication of scholarly information of the highest quality, including Chinese academic works. One of the representative projects is “The Routledge Handbook of the Belt and Road”, the essential “encyclopedia” of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) co-edited by Chinese and British scholars, provides an authoritative and up-to-date overview of the BRI. It also provides an insightful interpretation of China’s development strategy and international policy stance.

Besides, it symbolizes the gathering of insight and scholarship from experts who transcend geographical, cultural and disciplinary barriers. It also serves as an authoritative guide to the Belt and Road Initiative to field specialists, academic scholars, policy makers and more - a diverse group of learners with the ability to develop and apply this knowledge towards real-world matters.

The cover of “The Routledge Handbook of the Belt and Road”. (Photo provided by interviewee)

“The Routledge Handbook of the Belt and Road truly was a milestone publication for us. Most significantly, I see the Handbook as a demonstration of how powerful knowledge can be when it is allowed to traverse freely across borders.” Jeremy said, “At Taylor & Francis, we think that knowledge shouldn’t just be accumulated. Instead, we believe it should be disseminated, synthesised and iterated upon in order to create tangible benefits for the world.”

Therefore, “we remain dedicated to collaborating with our Chinese publishing partners to publish more works around this topic, and to continue connecting the work of Chinese scholars to learners all around the world.” added Jeremy.

It also illustrates his point of view, academic publishers need a more global operational strategy and mindset, transferring the knowledge across cultural and geographical boundaries, sharing diverse insights and perspectives from around the world.

Cooperation based on mutual benefit

Earlier this year, at the 2023 Forum of International Cooperation on STM Publishing in China, Jeremy emphasized the importance of global collaboration. He shared an idea from the book called “Lee Kuan Yew on China and the World”. In the book, Lee Kuan Yew noted that business in the 21st century will increasingly be shaped by the “accelerating growth of relationships based not on ownership but on partnership.”

“This idea feels incredibly relevant to us at Taylor & Francis.” Jeremy said, “From the beginning, we have recognized the immense opportunities brought about strong partnerships in China. Our approach has always been to base our relationships on mutual benefits that will stretch across the next decade or more, and to integrate our Chinese partnerships with everything else we are seeking to do across all our publishing activities around the world.”

Chinese readers communicate at Taylor & Francis booth at the Beijing International Book Fair. (Photo provided by interviewee)

Recently, the release ceremony for the Chinese Perspective Series was held in Beijing. The series consists of over 300 books and covers Humanities & Social Sciences, Education, Psychology, Science and Technology, Engineering, as well as many interdisciplinary themes. Also, this is the first time that any of these books have been published or translated into English for international readers. “I am extremely proud of the series, and I look forward to many more similar projects in future.” said Jeremy.

Moreover, “Our ambitions in China and regarding China-related content are not something we can – or want to – do alone. It is only through collaborating with Chinese publishers, and through ‘Rights-Out’ co-publishing arrangements, that we can enable the best work of academic authors in China to reach readers around the world in English language translations.”

Two sides of the “FOMO”

Entering the post-epidemic era, the global publishing industry faces all-round challenges from complex situations and uncertain factors. Facing uncertainty, Jeremy mentioned the interesting concept of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in China few years ago, it describes the fear that people feel when they think they are missing out on big, exciting opportunities and experiences enjoyed by others.

Jeremy told us, “When I first spoke about this concept in China, I argued that Western academic book publishers have also been suffering from a kind of FOMO, and not just in recent times, but over a much longer period. I also said I believed that there was a very good chance that both Chinese and Western publishers may experience similar kinds of FOMO in the future.”

So has prediction proved correct? After the epidemic, there is also a great sense of anxiety around being unable to capitalize on the growing opportunities created by technological advancements, such as digital publishing and Artificial Intelligence.

Jeremy said, “I suggest now that the FOMO is still with us and always will be. The anxiety of being overtaken by change is real, as are the many opportunities.” But instead of seeing it as a negative, Jeremy believes that FOMO in the academic publishing world can play an important role in helping publishers to safeguard their ability to meet the ever-evolving needs of customers.

“We must simply ensure that we approach any change and expansion strategically, retain our focus on publishing quality content and connecting authors to readers, and avoid the temptation to focus on a single ‘Big Thing’, whether it is a type of technology or product, or group of customers. Pluralism and experimentation are more fruitful.” he concluded.

Adapting service models to meet needs of “knowledge makers”

Nowadays, changes such as the rise of digital publishing have led many publishers, particularly academic publishers in the UK and the US, to reassess their roles.

Jeremy North gave a speech at China National Publishing Forum in Beijing. (Photo provided by interviewee)

Jeremy believes that a publisher exists to connect authors to readers and to connect experts to learners. “As a result, everything from our current strategy to our future vision is naturally shaped by these experts and learners – both part of a wider group we refer to as “knowledge makers”. We are constantly looking at ways to adapt our capabilities, service models, and content output to suit their needs.”

More importantly, the Group has been expanding relationships with partners and suppliers within the publishing ecosystem – collaborating more on joint ventures, as well as sharing best-practice with each other, particularly as it relates to digital publishing, digital discovery via the internet, and to the creative potential of Artificial Intelligence.  

“And of course, we cannot forget the importance of our relationships with local publishing partners and associations, in order to better understand and support the communities we are seeking to serve.” Jeremy noted.

“Taylor & Francis has been fostering human progress through knowledge for over two centuries, and we are immensely proud of what we have achieved in China and with our Chinese publishing partners, we hope to do so for many more!” Jeremy said.

Wang YuchenGu Yetao

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