Date
21 November 2017
Carmen Kwong looks at a stockpile of books. She said massive book returns by China-linked distributors will hurt the company's finances. Photo: Facebook
Carmen Kwong looks at a stockpile of books. She said massive book returns by China-linked distributors will hurt the company's finances. Photo: Facebook

Book publisher says it’s being targeted by China-linked sellers

A Hong Kong publisher of political commentary said it is being targeted by several bookstores with strong ties to mainland China.

Up Publications Ltd. has been hit by massive book returns from distributors in the Sino United Publishing Group since December, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday, citing Carmen Kwong, the publisher’s chief editor.

Kwong identified the book sellers as Joint Publishing, Chung Wa and Commercial Press.

A Sino United Publishing spokesman refused to comment on individual book returns, saying these decisions are made based on market demand.

Bookstores typically keep newly published titles for up to 12 months, Kwong said.

However, Sino United Publishing returned several hundred books, including non-sensitive titles, such as those about dining and pets, without giving a reason, she said.

Kwong said the move will hurt Up Publications’ finances.

A Chung Wa employee said bookstores backed by Chinese interests will have a hard time selling books supporting or advocating any civil disobedience in Hong Kong.

Shiu Ka-chun, a lecturer of social work in Hong Kong Baptist University, said Sino United and Singapore-based Page One Group did not carry his book on last year’s democracy protests.

It is rare for a bookstore to return almost all books from a single publisher, although it is not uncommon to see sluggish books sent back to their publishers, Pang Chi-ming, president of publisher Subculture, said.

Up Publications was founded in 2006 by Tony Tsoi, political commentator Ivan Choy and Liang Wendao. 

Many independent bookstores reported stellar sales of their books on political commentary.

Tsoi rose to fame after launching outspoken publisher House News in 2012, which he closed two years later, citing political pressure.

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