Sunday, August 16, 2009

Shopping in China at a Different Time!

I am currently back in China to shop for ChinaSprout again! Unlike previous trips, this time it has been more difficult to find new products. It seems that we have already carried most of the Chinese themed products that are suitable for our long standing customers. Besides a few great porcelain tea sets and bowls, and some dresses and shirts, I am not finding any new crafts, toys, stationery and other products.

I asked suppliers why they aren’t developing more new products as they have before, and they told me that they have developed almost all Chinese themed products that they can, and they don’t have any more new ideas. Some overseas customers sent them some samples and it turned out that they have already done similar products, so all they could do is change the fabric patterns (which also became a problem, as there are not may new patterns developed). Secondly, the Chinese have felt the impact of the economic downturn. Many overseas customers limited their orders and there are fewer overseas tourists coming to China too, so there is no motivation to develop more new products. On the other end, suppliers feel the domestic demands have increased, and more and more Chinese are purchasing products with Chinese traditional themes. Because of this new demand, they have been developing products aimed at the domestic market.

In contrast, Chinese publishers have been publishing new books on a monthly, if not a daily basis. There are different kinds of great new books that I would have never expected to be published in China before. For children's books, they have been translating popular American and European picture books as well as books about science and social studies. I used to be able to only source these type of books in Taiwan, but now they are also available in China (in simplified characters). In addition, Chinese publishers are now publishing picture books illustrated by Chinese artists, an art that was not previously familiar to Chinese artists and readers. All of these books help children not only to learn about the subjects that they study in school, but also to learn about social skills and creativity through stories and illustrations. Of course, these books are great for schools in the U.S. that have Chinese language or Chinese immersion programs. We will soon introduce these new books on our website.

I will continue looking for new Chinese themed products that will be of interest on our Culture site, while adding new books for our Education site. If you have any special wishes for a product that is still not available on our site, feel free to let me know!



no one said...

I am so happy that you are selling children's books now! I am learning Chinese and would like to be able to read books in Chinese to our daughter that we will be adopting from China. I have ordered a few already for my own reading practice.

I am interested in books with simplified characters that are not bilingual (bilingual books make it too easy to cheat and just read the English!). More simple books for young children would be great!

Do they sell the Curious George books as paperbacks? I love hardcovers, but they tend to cost more.

Amanda said...

Perhaps we'd be more interested in products that aren't necessarily geared toward Westerners. Just a thought. :)

Anonymous said...

I love your company/catalogs, but this post disappoints me. I can think of dozens of items you don't carry that I have to source elsewhere.

Examples of items I would buy from you if they were available:

- Animated cartoon DVD's for children such as the Pororo and Thomas the Tank Engine Series'. My understanding is that these are available in Asia in simplified & traditional characters as well as with english subtitle, but I cannot find them here.

- Dolls that speak English and Chinese - such as the Language Littles doll which sold out so quickly and is IMPOSSIBLE to find now even on eBay!

- Small black shoes for my under 1 year old baby that will go with her Qi Pao... something like the little black simple slippers older girls wear with Qi Pao. But I cannot find these in a size for her!

- Bento sets either in Chinese or featuring characters a Chinese/American child might appreciate. I know Bento is Japanese, but it is very popular and translates well for preschoolers.

- Chinese/English coloring books and Chinese crayons with the names of the colors on the wrappers just as they have in English with Crayolas

This is just the most basic... but I could go on and on. Oh, please renew your enthusiasm for finding new products. I NEED THEM for my child!!