A New Episode in Our Continuing Series on the Chinese Publishing Industry

April 25th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

The husband, one of the few people we know who reads the Los Angeles Times Business section before he reads the comics, recalled that we have done a series of hard-hitting stories on the publishing industry in China and alerted us to an article that fits perfectly with one of our favorite topics: fake books by fake authors. While our concerns about how tell a fake book from a real book are not answered to our satisfaction, we learned lots of cool things.

If we’re following the whole thing correctly, clever entrepeneurs sell fake business books by fake authors, complete with fake quotes, to Chinese publishers. These books, retreads of articles and whatnot, are foisted on a hungry public, who then learn important things like good managers pay attention to details*.

“Most people still believe books tell the truth,” said Oliver Liu, legal counsel for Chinadotcom Corp., a software and mobile communications company based in Hong Kong.

So true, so very, very true. We believe everything we read. It’s so much easier than sorting truth from fiction. The nascent business book publishing industry in China is struggling to keep up with the demands of a marketplace economy, especially in light of a populace that doesn’t quite trust the advice of newcomers to take-no-prisoners capitalism. It’s a touchy subject with publishers:

“We lack the experience to distinguish these new fake books,” said Chen Xiaojun, vice president of China Chang An Publishing House.

We would suggest due diligence, but we have far too much cynicism in our diet.

This, well, we’re not sure if it’s a problem or a conundrum, requires more examination. And we hope the press sends reporters deep into the heart of China to bring back more information (our correspondent budget was depleted sometime in early January). In the meantime, we would be remiss if we didn’t puzzle over this comment:

Beijing may be trying to close a loophole that allows foreign-copyright books to be published easily, and it is pushing publishers to better monitor the situation.

It is almost as if the author of the article doesn’t know what is happening in Beijing. Maybe they’re doing something about the issue, maybe they’re not. Nobody knows, but maybe it should be mentioned on the off chance they are. And if they’re ignoring the problem, well, nobody will notice an offhand comment buried toward the end of an article on fake books.

* – Unless said manager is practicing the principle of avoiding all responsibility for anything that happens while he’s in charge. We’re not naming names.

File Under: Books/Mags/Blogs · Publishers and Editors