Reading Simplified Characters outside of China
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Nov 17, 2012 11:02 AM Last Post By: spham
Nov 13, 2012 6:50 AM
Reading Simplified Characters outside of ChinaHi,
This is a bit of a vague question, but I'm hoping some of you might be knowledgeable about this topic and give me some tips. I'd like some information on how I can go about getting books in Chinese (with simplified characters, which is all I'm able to read) outside of China. Specifically, I'm wondering if any of you know of bookstores in South-East Asia which sell books in Simplified Chinese characters (I've heard I should definitely find a selection in Singapore; any idea about Thailand or Malaysia?). Also, how about in the West? Anyone with experience of trying to find Chinese books in, say, London? Is there anywhere online I can buy books that will deliver to either North America or Europe?
Also, any idea of how much publishing in Simplified characters is actually done outside of the mainland? In Hong Kong I found next to no books in simplified characters which had been published outside the mainland (one book of poetry by Liu Xiaobo is all I could find). In Thailand, where I am at the moment, I've found the odd magazine, as well as a daily newspaper (quite surprising if you ask me) which is published in simplified characters. But as yet, no books. Are there actually any publishers outside of the mainland which publish novels in simplified characters?
It would be great to learn a little more about this.
Nov 13, 2012 8:34 AM
1I'm pretty sure simplified characters are now standard in Singapore, so you shouldn't have much problem finding newspapers and books there.
But if you're serious about reading Chinese -- and if you're at the level where you can read novels you must be -- then I'd strongly suggest investing the time in learning traditional forms. It's not that difficult at all once you've mastered simple forms, since context usually identifies the character, and as you are discovering knowing traditional forms will open a vast amount of material to you.
Nov 13, 2012 8:40 AM
2If you have an iPhone or iPad, you might want to look at downloading the Nciku Reader, which is a free ebook reader that allows you to download both free and purchased Chinese books from their online bookstore. Since nciku.com only supports simplified Chinese and English, I'm assuming their book choices are probably also simplified Chinese.
Nov 13, 2012 3:17 PM
3Basically, publishing of either traditional or simplified characters is divided by Taiwan and mainland. Hong Kong does more in traditional character printing with increasing volume of simplified character publishing targeting mainland retailing.
Singapore has its official policy of education in simplified Chinese since the 70’s, only older people understand traditional Chinese.
Malaysia and other SEA countries have left the issue alone thus more Chinese users and newsprints are still using traditional characters. However, imported books can be in simplified characters depending on the sources. I was at a bookstore in Kuala Lumpur yesterday and I did, come across some books printed in simplified characters.
Chinese bookstores in North America carry a mixture, perhaps 50-50. Similar situations with public libraries in universities and larger metropolitans
Online purchasing in China, includes books, is cheap and convenient. There are some agent buyers who would ship it outside of China for you. I have not used any of them and have no idea of their reliability? Dangdang.com sells more than toys and diapers, they have a ‘second-hand’ book section (good and rare book selections) that I had purchased books before, for shipping within China. I am just thinking out loud that, for the sellers are mostly individuals, one may be able to arrange with them to ship out of China?
Nov 15, 2012 7:58 PM
4Thanks for the information everyone! Thanks for the tip about the bookstore in Thailand jiejie, they seem to have 3 branches in Bangkok so I'll try to go and have a look when I get to Bangkok. I've found a number of Chinese bookstores in Bangkok from Google searches, but they never specify whether they sell books in traditional or simplified characters.
I had no idea Singapore is officially using simplified characters - that's definitely going to be an obvious place to try and stock up on books then. It also helps explain the presence of simplified characters in Thailand, if there are countries in the region that are using simplified characters.
AlBeamer, that idea sounds like a lot of trust in things to go right, and it would also be quite a timely process to get books that way.
889, if I continue to be serious about reading Chinese, I imagine I will at some point try and learn the traditional forms. It's just straight memorization, and can't be that much more difficult than, say, going from reading with pinyin to reading without pinyin, which is something I've already done. But I'd like to get my level of reading in simplified characters up to a better standard before I do that - there are still far too many characters I don't know. Hence one of the main reasons why I'm trying to get hold of books, so I can keep working on improving my Chinese reading.
Nov 17, 2012 11:02 AM
5Traditional Chinese just used in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Outside those area, most of the Chinese use the simplified one. Actually, if you learn traditional form of Chinese first, it is so easy for you to learn the simplified one and you would have a better picture of why and how the Chinese letters formed.
(3 star Hotel)
From US$57.24 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$69.43 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$53.06 per night