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A Timeless Topic
Special> Youth Literature Enchantment> A Timeless Topic
UPDATED: July 1, 2009 Web Exclusive
Popular Trends of Mooks
The writer's style decides the mook's style. Unlike Top Novel, Cai Jun's Discovery Novel mainly publishes suspense stories

Guo Jingming, Han Han, Zhang Yueran, Rao Xueman and Cai Jun – these five names can be regarded as representative of the whole youth literature market. With the popularity of mooks – publications in the format of a magazine but sold as books – they have all published or are planning to publish their own. What makes mooks so popular? Let's look at the stories behind the scene.

Strong circulation

As a mook targeting young women from 14 to 22, M-Girl's editors are almost all from the post-80s generation. Working as both editors and writers, the common feature of these women is they can all write good articles even though they come from different industries. Editor-in-Chief Rao Xueman said, "Our goal is to share the market with Top Novel and sell 300,000 copies per week."

At the beginning of 2009, Guo Jingming separated Top Novel into Top Novel and Top Ink, which already has strong circulation. In April, Zhang Yueran also published the fourth issue of her mook Newriting, while Cai Jun published the first issue of Discovery Novel. Han Han's new mook is in preparation and will be different from others.

Using models

Using models in mooks was Rao Xueman's idea. It's a way to package mooks with some entertainment factors. M-Girl combines literature with reality shows and short video. Models appear on the cover of every issue. Many girls post their resumes and photos on the Internet to participate in the selection of models.

A Liang, who in charges of the publishing process of Top Novel, also said that packaging mooks with some entertainment factors would make them more accessible for young readers. Guo Jingming is a model for Top Novel.

Compared with M-Girl and Top Novel, Newriting's pictures are more artistic, even ridiculous, such as a man wearing a diving suit in the bathtub.

More typical

The writer's style decides the mook's style. Unlike Top Novel, Cai Jun's Discovery Novel mainly publishes suspense stories. The readers are much older, including students and white-collar workers. It attracts more male readers and focuses more on text instead of pictures.

Newriting recently published its fourth issue. Each issue develops around a single topic such as loneliness, dishonesty or ambiguity. It reflects the lives and inner feelings of young women. The target readers are those who were born after 1980 and love literature.

Zhang Yueran said she enjoys the gratification brought by launching Newriting. Rao Xueman and Guo Jingming also said that one of the reasons they launched their mooks was to bring positive effects to readers and get achievements from it.

Celebrity charm

In some people's opinion, these writers become mook editors because magazine books boost their profiles, though all of them say their purpose in launching mooks is to satisfy readers and train new writers. Take Guo Jingming, for example. His income this year will reach 21 million yuan ($3 million) based on the circulation of Top Novel.

Guo's Top Novel has become a brand and business. If best-selling writers like Han Han and Rao Xueman want to exceed Guo, they have to develop their own businesses, because publishing one or two full-length novels per year is too slow.

Compared with the writers, publishing houses benefit even more from publishing mooks; they are the ones who invite writers to be the chief editors. For writers like Guo and Han, their reputation is their biggest selling point. Just as Top Novel, Guo's serial story that published on it every issue is the sigh of the mook which attracts the readers.

Younger writers and readers

Finding young writers is another focus for mook editors. But as the chief editor of Newriting, Zhang Yueran said that the number of young writers is not as high as many imagine. Cai Jun also said that the young writers they have found through the Internet are not mature in their work.

As readers are becoming younger, there is a trend that the writers are becoming younger, either. In mid-March, Rao Xueman announced that M-Girl had signed 10 post-90s female writers including Jiang Fangzhou (born in 1989) and Qin Maomao.

For mooks like Top Novel and M-Girl, readers' opinions are very important. Top Novel's official website has more than 120,000 members. The main editors like Guo and Luo Luo participate in the discussion to learn about readers' thoughts. M-Girl has 12 QQ online chat groups on the Chinese mainland. Editors communicate with readers through QQ and get suggestions from them.

(Translated by LAI YIXIN)

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