Today we visited the Nanjing Amity Printing Press which is the largest single unit Bible printing press in the world and the leading thin paper book printer in China. The factory is huge. We were welcomed warmly by the General Manager and his senior staff team and given a very well – organised tour and presentation.
The Amity Press is a joint venture of the Amity Foundation, a major Chinese faith – based charity, and the United Bible Societies (UBS). It prints some 3.5 million Chinese bibles per annum and about another 2 million bibles in other languages for export, including English. It’s run as a social enterprise and ethical business with profits going to fund the Amity Foundation and the UBS’ work.
There is an extensive national network of Bible distribution centres at local churches across China, which gets bibles into the hands of local Christians. In China bibles may be purchased only at church premises though anyone can walk in and purchase a bible for personal use. To make bibles affordable to the poorer members of rural churches UBS subsidises the printing costs by purchasing the paper on which the bibles are printed, raising funds worldwide through national Bible Society campaigns; such as the China Vision appeal currently being run by the Bible Society of England and Wales. This subsidy cuts in half the price to the customer, giving Chinese Christians the opportunity to obtain a good quality bible for less than £2. In some very poor communities or in special circumstances bibles will be given freely to local Christians.
The press also produces Braille bibles and a range of funding streams enable these to be purchased affordably. A whole Bible in Braille comprises 32 volumes and without subsidy would be priced at about£75.
Since it opened in the mid- 1980s the Amity Press has produced over 120 million Bibles of which 65 million have been distributed in China; and it has moved to a new state of the art plant in 2008.