Renowned British author Enid Blyton's group of adventurers the "Famous Five" are ready to crack the Chinese book market for children for the first time.
The first five adventure stories of the Famous Five-Julian, Dick, Anne, Georgina and their dog Timmy- were released online in China recently. And, by 2015, the remaining 15- Blyton (1897-1968) wrote 21 in this particular series- are expected to be released as well.
A Shanghai-based book house, DookBook, acquired the rights of the series from the British Hodder and Stoughton publishing house after, what project editor, Zoe Wang, described was very tough competition.
Speaking to HT from Shanghai, Zoe said many publishing houses in China were vying to acquire the rights for Blyton's books, which have sold millions of copies since they were first published.
"The books have stood the test of time. She is very famous in the US and Europe. Even today millions of copies are sold every year. That means these books are good for children. That is why we thought, the books could be introduced to children in China who do not read English," Zoe, who is heading the project for her company, said.
She added that there was "fierce competition" between publishing houses here to publish the books.
The books recently went on sale online and are available on a children's book website called www.dangdang.com. Each book is priced around 20 Yuan (roughly Rs 200).
"Two very qualified persons were hired to translate the books," Zoe said, adding that one was a University professor with a PhD in a translation and other a famous translator in China.
It is not surprising that Chinese publishing houses competed hard and now DookBook is ensuring that production values of the Chinese version are smart and attractive.
According to the state-run China Daily newspaper, the country is one of the biggest markets for children's books in the world, has more than 220 million children under the age of 14, representing 16.6% of the country's total population.