Publishers take on China at book fair
THE city’s feisty publishing industry vowed to take on China by selling books critical of Beijing, despite the disappearances of five city booksellers, as a major annual book fair began yesterday.
The booksellers, who went missing last year and resurfaced in the mainland, worked for a publishing house in Hong Kong known for gossipy titles about China’s political leaders.
One of the men is still detained and another, who skipped bail, has revealed how he was blindfolded and interrogated for months.
Some mainstream bookstores here removed works likely to offend mainland authorities from their shelves in the wake of the disappearances.
And while independent shop owners are still willing to stock the books, some have said salacious or critical titles about Beijing politics have dwindled as publishers have been scared off.
But on the first day of the book fair yesterday, there was determination to keep fighting.
“As a publishing house, I personally think I should not worry ... You lose if you start to worry,” said Jimmy Pang, head of Hong Kong publisher Subculture.
Mr Pang said he would not stop printing political books out of fear, but described the pressure on the Hong Kong industry as “white terror”.
“If a book is suddenly banned, say after some mainland officials say it is, the whole line of production can get into trouble, from its writer, publisher, to the distributor and even readers. It can happen two or three years after the book is printed,” Mr Pang said.