Posted by Joel Martinsen on Friday, October 22, 2010 at 4:35 PM
Soho Xiaobao, September 2010
Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), an in-house magazine published by the Soho China real estate development company, abruptly announced that its current issue would be its last.
Soho China vice president Xu Yang, who also co-edits the magazine, was the first to formally acknowledge the shutdown in a microblog update posted at 18:28 on October 17:
Xu Yang told the Dongguan Times that the shutdown “definitely has its reasons, but now is not the time to reveal them.”
The magazine, which was distributed free to Soho clients, members of the media, and a closed list of privileged readers, was not your typical corporate newsletter. Each issue was built around a theme and featured essays and interviews with critics, academics, journalists, and other writers. Although it had a circulation of just 25,000, Soho Xiaobao had an influence on par with other literary monthlies. The Dongguan Times describes its appeal:
The magazine is not Pan Shiyi’s only venture outside of the realm of real estate. Mid-decade, Soho Xiaobao launched an associated blogging platform designed to serve Soho clients. The service propelled Pan Shiyi into the ranks of China’s most popular online personalities and was home to a number of popular online writers, including the popular rumor-blogger Pro State In Flames. Pan subsequently jumped ship for Sina’s wider reach, Pro State switched hosts after fighting unsuccessfully against the service’s keyword filters (his blogging career was later cut short by a knife attack), and the platform itself was ultimately shut down during 2008’s anti-vulgarity campaign.
On October 20, the Beijing Morning Post quoted an anonymous source within Soho China who relayed second-hand information from Xu Yang to the effect that the company no longer wants to be in the magazine business. The paper also dug up an interview that Pan Shiyi gave to The Economic Observer in March in which he revealed that he relies on the Internet for his news and does not read print newspapers. The interview closed with this exchange:
Will Soho Xiaobao be reborn as some form of digital publication? Responding to a microblog comment from Annie Baobei, a novelist and essayist who contributed a number of pieces to the magazine, co-editor Li Nan wrote, “I am still seeking a new format and channel to carry on the content.”
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Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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