The Publishing Industry of Taiwan

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6 The Publishing Industry of Taiwan

A. Overview

B. Book Publishing

C. Magazine Publishing

D. Distribution and Publishing Organizations

E. Audio-Visual Publishing and Online Bookstores

F. Outside Investment in Taiwan

A. Overview

Taiwan, with a population of 23 million in an area of about 36,200 square kilometers, is the most developed region of the Chinese publishing industry, and its total publishing capacity ranks second among the three major Chinese publishing bases. In 2001, the GDP in Taiwan reached US$12,621 per capita, and people there spent an average of about US$74 yearly on books per capita.

Chinese publishing in Taiwan began to develop in the late 1940s and made rapid progress shortly thereafter. Before the mid-1960s, there were less than 1,000 publishing houses but the 1,000 mark was broken in 1967. In the early 1980s, Taiwan had over 2,000 publishing houses and by 1988 the number surpassed 3,000. By the end of 2002, more than 8,000 book publishing houses had been registered in Taiwan, along with around 2,800 audio-video publishing companies, 7,800 magazine publishers, 450 newspaper publishers, and 270 news agencies.

A large number of books are published in Taiwan annually and in 2003 the total output reached 38,000 titles, of which 25,000 were new. In recent years, Taiwan’s average annual book output reached 35,000 titles and in the late 1990s the average annual sales totaled NT$57 billion (US$1.67 billion).

Publishing companies in Taiwan are mainly located in the north of the island. Half of the entire industry is concentrated in the city and county of Taipei, with the rest scattered mostly in Taichung, Kaohisung, and Tainan. Taipei is home to 70% of the total number of book publishers, 80% of audio-video, 60% of magazine, 50% of newspaper, and 55% of news agencies. Most publishing houses are private companies, with the rest being public enterprises, or owned and operated by political parties or the military as “government publishers.”

The publishing industry in Taiwan began to experience fierce competition from the 1980s. After 2000, factors like foreign investment and entry into the WTO have led to increased competition. As creative industries have become more important in the global economy, Taiwan has moved aggressively to promote intellectual property rights and foster creativity. By the end of 2003, experts from industry, the administrative sector, and the academic world worked together and formed the “Guiding Committee for Cultural and Creative Industries.” The aim is to provide overall regulation and integration between the media, design, and arts sectors of the cultural and creative industries. Soon after, the First Taiwan Creative Design Exhibition was held, marking the first step toward regulating and integrating cultural and creative industries, including the publishing industry.

B. Book Publishing


About 7,000 to 8,000 book publishing houses are registered in Taiwan, but only 1,500 of them produce more than two titles annually and only 500 more than ten titles. According to statistics provided by the Taiwan Department of Commerce of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, 1,503 publishing companies paid taxes in 2002, with total sales of NT$20.92 billion (US$611.7 million).

A majority of Taiwan publishing houses do not have a long history. Throughout the entire industry, about 50% were established within the last five years and 20% are between 10 and 20 years old, 14% between 20 and 30 years, and only 0.03% have more than a 30-year history. The companies with a relatively long history are Eastern Publishing Co., Ltd., San Min Book Co., Ltd., Crown Publishing House, the Far East Book Co., Ltd. and those that moved to Taiwan from the Chinese mainland, such as The Commercial Press Ltd., Chung Hwa Book Co., World Book Co., Ltd., and Cheng Chung Book Co., Ltd.

The 2000 Taiwan Publishing Market Report shows that 47% of the publishing houses have annual sales less than NT$10 million, 23% between NT$10 and 60 million, 2.5% between NT$60 and 100 million and 7.7% over NT$100 million. The average annual sales for book publishing companies is around NT$34.5 million (US$1.01 million).

In terms of capital assets, over half of the publishing houses have less than NT$500,000, 20% more than NT$5 million, and the rest between NT$500,000 and 5 million. By business structure, 34% (a different reference suggests 50%) are limited liability companies, 27% are incorporated companies, and 23% sole proprietorships. In addition, about 6% are operated by corporate agents.

In terms of personnel, about 56% employ less than 10 people, 11% between 11 and 20, 12% 21–100, 6% 101–500, and 0.55% more than 500 employees. Therefore, publishing houses in Taiwan are primarily small and medium-sized enterprises.

Prominent and comprehensive publishing houses include: Cite Publishing Ltd., Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., Ltd., China Times Publishing Company, Linking Publishing Co., Ltd., the Crown Culture Corporation, Eurasian Press; The Commercial Press Ltd., Commonwealth Publishing Company, Wu-Nan Book Co., Ltd., San Min Book Co., Ltd., Cheng Chung Book, the Sitak Publishing Group, Chuan Hwa Science & Technology Book Co., Ltd., Unalis Publishing Company, Hsin-Yi Publications, Living Psychology Publishers, Locus Publishing Company, Kang Hsuan Educational Publishing Group, and the Ting Wen Book House.

In recent years, increased competition and a drive for growth has pushed publishers to form publishing groups. Three major methods have been explored and implemented. First, a publishing house spins off a number of subsidiary companies, that is how Crown Publishing House transformed into the Crown Culture Corporation. The second is to integrate several publishers, the method adopted by the Taiwan Mansion Books Group, which consists of Taiwan Mansion Books, Business Communication, Lifetime MENU, International Study Village, BMG Reading Society, Popular Book Study Room, and Visual Culture. The third way is restructuring by acquiring controling shares of other houses, as Cite Publishing Holding has done.

Cite Publishing Holding, controlled by Tom Group Ltd. in Hong Kong, is the largest publishing group in Taiwan. (See Figure 6.2.) It includes PC Home Group, Cite Publishing Group, Business Weekly Group, Sharp Point Group and the Nong Nong Group (Citta Bella). Overall, Cite owns about 30 publishing houses, 42 magazines and produces 25 million magazines and 10 million copies of books, with an annual income of NT$3.1 billion (US$90.64 million) and a net profit of NT$400 million (US$11.7 million) before taxes. Its Sharp Point Publishing, Rye Field Publishing, Owl Publishing House, Grimm Press, and Business Weekly Publications, Ltd., are all prominent publishing companies, and Citta Bella, Business Weekly, and PC Home are well-known magazines.

Publishing companies favor literature highly, followed by religion. Books on psychology, medicine, home economics, arts, and children’s books also have considerable output. Of the total,

about 75% are in Chinese, 19% in English and 5.8% in Japanese. Literature always ranks first, followed by books on finance, industrial and business management, and comic books.

Book prices in Taiwan are higher compared with other Chinese book markets. According to the 2000 Taiwan Publishing Market Report, the average price is around NT$222.40 (US$6.54), paperbacks at about NT$214.34 (US$6.27) and hardcovers at NT$291 (US$8.51).

There are many book awards in Taiwan. An important official award is the Golden Tripod Award, and the two most influential non-governmental awards, sponsored by the United Daily News and the China Times, are the Reader’s Choice Award and the Opening-Book Award. The latter two awards offer annual prizes in three categories: non-fiction, fiction and children’s books, with the winners announced at the beginning of the year. Some famous bookstore chains such as King Stone and Eslite also sponsor annual book awards.

Prominent figures in the Taiwan publishing industry include Cite’s President Jan Hung Tze and General Manager Ho Fei Peng, Yuan-Liou’s Chairman Wang Jung-Wen, Locus’s Rex How, Common Wealth magazine’s Charles H. C. Kao, Linking’s distributor Liu Kuo-Jui, San Min’s Chairman Liu Chen Chiang, Crown’s Chairman Ping Shin-Tao, Wu-Nan’s Chairman Yang Jung-Chuan, Eurasian’s Chairman Chien Chih-Chong, Chuan Hwa Science & Technology’s Jan I-Jeng, China Times’ General Manager Mo Chao Ping, and Grimm’s Hao Kuang Tsai.

2. Publishing Market Sectors

Taiwan has influential publishing houses in a variety of fields. The following comprehensive publishing companies are especially strong in social sciences: Yuan-Liou, China Times Publishing Company, Linking, Wu-Nan, Common Wealth Magazine, Cheng Chung, San Min, Youth Cultural Enterprise Company, Li Ming Cultural Enterprise Company, The Commercial Press, Laureate Book Company, Bookman Books Ltd., Literature, History, and Philosophy and Biographical Literature. Among them, Yuan-Liou, China Times Publishing, Linking, Wu-Nan, Common Wealth Magazine, and San Min are the most influential.

Established in 1975, Yuan-Liou is one of the largest publishing companies with over 170 employees and publishes more than 300 titles yearly with annual sales of over NT$600 million (approximately US$18 million). It produces books on psychology, literature, business and life management, children’s books, and reference books. Its publications also cover foreign subjects, and it has published the European Encyclopedia, Western Cultures Collection, and World Classic Biographical Works Series. In addition, it publishes many magazines, including the popular American scientific magazine, Scientific American, in traditional Chinese.

China Times Publishing and Linking Publishing are affiliated with the two large newspaper groups in Taiwan, the China Times Group and the United Daily News Group. China Times Publishing has around 100 employees and publishes more than 300 titles yearly with annual sales of around NT$350 million (US$10.23 million). While upholding humanist ideals, it accommodates a variety of views, appreciates the development of new ideas and trends, and has established a strong brand name in the Taiwanese book market. So far, China Times has published books by the well-known comic writer Tsai Chih-Chung and influential writers such as Ha Jin, Yu Qiuyu and, thanks to the efforts of this company, Milan Kundera, Alvin Toffler, Italo Calvino, Günter Grass, Kenzaburo Oe, and Haruki Murakami have become household names in Taiwan. China Times also operates a reading website, It is the first publishing company in Taiwan to be listed on the stock market.

Linking Publishing, founded in 1974, publishes high quality books on the humanities and social sciences. It produces more than 100 new titles annually and its publications include the imperial archives of the Ming and Qing dynasties; complete works by Chinese cultural masters such as Qian Mu, Ch’u Wanli, Xiao Gongquan (Hsiao Kung-chuan), and Mou Zongsan; and book series by Ray Huang and Gao Yang. It has published notable foreign literary works such as In Search of Lost Time and The Lord of the Rings among others. Of all the publishing companies in Taiwan, Linking has been awarded the greatest number of Golden Tripod Awards.

Common Wealth Magazine Co., Ltd. is a subsidiary of Commonwealth Publishing Company with about 80 employees and an annual output of 120 titles. It encourages its staff to “make work choices based on ideals and explore work methods with conscience,” and has published many excellent social sciences titles. Its parent company, Common Wealth, produces the Global Views Monthly and operates a book club, Readers’ Society, and a bookstore (93 Reader Space), as well as two websites, and Its founder, Charles H. C. Kao, is an internationally well-known economist.

Wu-Nan is strong in textbooks, reference books and books on law and test preparation. It produces more than 200 titles annually and owns several bookstores. San Min, boasting the longest history among the publishing companies in Taiwan, is a major publisher for reference books, humanities academic books, and textbooks for the higher education market.

Many publishers compete in publishing literature titles. Prominent names are Crown, Unitas Publishing Company, Eurasian Press, Rye Field Press, Sitak Publishing Group, Chiu Ko Publishing Co., Ltd., Elite Books, Hung-Fan Bookstore, Great Earth (Dadi) Publishing House, Chih Wen Publishing Co., Ltd., Morning Star Press, Hann Colour, Shui Yun Zhai, Vista Publishing, Avanguard Publishing Company, and Linbai, among others. Some new companies are also worthy of mention such as Locus Publishing Company, Aquarius Publishing Co., Ltd., and Ink Publishing Co., Ltd.

Crown, Eurasian and Sitak have a large share in the pop literature market. Crown Culture Corporation is a comprehensive publishing corporation and engages in a variety of activities including book publishing, audio-video production, film and TV production, as well as running an art gallery, theater, and dance troupe. In the publishing division, the Crown Culture Corporation has several subsidiary companies, including Crown Magazine, Crown Publishing Company, Ping’s Publications, Ltd., Ping’s Audio-Video Publications Limited and Ping’s Paperback Book Publications Limited. In addition, Crown has also established a branch office in Hong Kong. Annually, Crown produces more than 250 titles. Eurasian, including Eurasian Press, Fine Press, and Athena Press, has set many records in literature publishing in Taiwan. For instance, it once issued 164 consecutive editions of Wild Fire by Long Yingtai, sold 200,000 units of Lin Qingxian’s audio books, and had sales of NT$300 million (US$8.77 million) over just nine months. Sitak has 130 employees and produces more than 100 new titles annually. Over the 30 years since its establishment, Sitak has published many popular books such as World Literature Classics Series, Aim High Psychology Series, The French Medal Literature Series, Discovery, and Shine.

Among serious literature publishers, it is impossible to ignore the Unitas Publishing Company. Like Linking, Unitas is affiliated with the United Daily News Group and produces about 30 new titles annually. Most of its publications are works by contemporary Chinese writers. Beyond producing far-reaching books on literature and the arts, it also sponsors the most influential literature magazine in Taiwan, Unitas. The “Little Fives”—Chiu Ko Publishing, Elite Books, Hung-Fan Bookstore, Great Earth Publishing House, and Pure Literature Publishing House (now out of business)—are known for their dedication to serious literature. Founders of the “Little Fives” themselves were writers or poets and later became publishers. Elite and Chiu Ko have the honor of publishing annual anthologies of the best stories, poems and prose from Taiwan. Chiu Ko has published James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses, a work notoriously difficult to translate, and has also founded the “Chiu Ko Culture and Educational Foundation.”

There are not many art book publishing companies in Taiwan. At present the prominent ones include Lionart, Artist Publishing Company, and Art Book Co., Ltd. Lionart is the most well known art book publisher and has a history of 30 years. It has published art book series with more than 300 titles and issues the leading arts magazine, Lionart Monthly.

Taiwan has many children’s book publishing houses with a large annual output. Major ones include Grimm Press, Hsin-Yi, Newton Publishing Co., Ltd., Lsiao Lu Publishing Company, Echo Publishing Co., Ltd., Formosan Magazine Press, Eastern Publishing Company, Children Publication Co., Ltd., Zhi Mao, Childhood, and Fuchun Culture. Grimm is a young company with over 300 well-received titles over seven years. The press often commissions first-class illustrators for its publications, and therefore it is not a surprise that several Grimm’s books, such as Modern Edition Classic Children’s Stories, Classic Works Illustrated Edition and Shakespeare, were selected for an exhibition at International Children’s Book Illustrations Exhibition in Bologna, Italy. During the International Children’s Book Illustrations Bangladesh Biennial, Grimm was picked as the best children’s book publishing house in the world. Grimm’s chief editor, Hao Kuang Tsai, was once invited to serve as a judge in the International Children’s Book Illustrations Exhibition in Bologna.

Hsin-Yi was started in 1978 by the Hsin-Yi Foundation, the only foundation dedicated to pre-school education research. It specializes in picture books for young children. With the mission statement of “guarding childhood for children,” Hsin-Yi publishes a variety of titles for children up to 12 years old, teachers, and parents. It also publishes many magazines including Pre-School Education.

Comic books have always held an important place in Taiwan’s publishing industry. Such books have a large market share, and publishers have produced all variety of comic books. Well-known companies in this field include: Tongli Publishing Co., Sharp Point Publishing, Taiwan Tohan Co., Ltd., Youth Literary Book Store, Shang Deng, China Times Publishing, Ever Glory Publishing Co., Ltd., and Da Ran Culture Enterprise Co., Ltd. Together, they are known as the “Eight Bigs.” Tongli, the largest among them, employs more than 100 people, publishes 1,400 titles annually, and owns 5 comic magazines, a film and TV media company, and operates a branch office in Hong Kong. In addition, Tongli has its own well-organized distribution network and eight direct sales centers in Taiwan. Its Hong Kong branch produces around 40 books every month. Tongli’s comic books have entered into the international market with the copyrights of The Little Monk and Wedding Peach sold in Spain and Italy. Nevertheless, competition in this field is very fierce, and no publishing house is able to stay on top. Currently, Da Ran, one of the “Eight Bigs,” already faces many difficulties.

In the science and technology publishing sector, prominent companies include Chuan Hwa Science & Technology Book Co., Ltd., Unalis Publishing Company, Scholars Publishing Company, XiaoYuan, and Jian Hong. Rapid development in information technology in recent years has led to the establishment of many e-book publishing companies. The well-known players are the TWP Corporation, Liwil, Flag Publishing, Team Strong Media Co., Ltd., Dr. Master Press Co., Ltd., Hudson Technology & Culture Company, Gotop Information, Inc., Informationist, and PCuSer Press Co., Ltd.

Chuan Hwa Science & Technology Book Co., Ltd. is a major science and technology publisher in Taiwan. In the 30 years since its establishment, it has published more than 5,000 titles specializing in information technology, mechanical manufacturing, civil engineering, industrial chemistry, and business management. It imports and markets books in Western languages and computer software. The company has more than 100 employees with annual sales of NT$300 million (US$8.77 million). It has made great contributions to Taiwan’s scientific and technological education. Chuan Hwa controls several subsidiary companies: Quan You Book House, Song Gen Publishing House, Hua Li Publishing House, Electronic Book House, Mechanical Technology Magazine House, Electronic Technology Magazine House, and Yung Hwa Printmaking Plant.

Competition in educational publishing has always been fierce and has been even more so since 1989, when nongovernmental publishing houses were allowed to publish textbooks. Leading companies with a considerable share in the textbook market are Kang Hsuan Education Group, Ting Wen Culture Group, Wu-Nan Culture Group, Chien-Hua Culture Group, and San Min Book. Kang Hsuan Education Group is the largest textbook publisher with over 600 employees and annual sales of NT$2.3 billion (US$67.25 million). Its major market is primary school textbooks and books used in bilingual schools. Over 50% of primary school students in Taiwan buy Kang Hsuan textbooks, and the company controls about 60% of the entire textbook market share. In addition, it operates bilingual education schools and has six education websites. Ting Wen Culture Group controls Ting Wen Book House and Dawa Fax Publishing in addition to several weekly test-preparation magazines, websites, printing houses, and tutorial centers.

Many influential publishing houses are also active in other areas. Publishers strong in finance and law books include Common Wealth Magazine Company, Wealth Group, Excellence Monthly Company, Harvard Management Services Inc., China Credit Information Services Ltd., Long River Publications, Wu-Nan, and Wei Li Law Office. Prominent linguistics publishers include Far East Books, Classic Communications Company, Bookman, Caves Books, Hall of Great Scholars, and Warmth Publications. Influential publishers of lifestyle books are Outdoor Life Books Co., Ltd., Fine Press, Taiwan Tohan, Homer Publishing, Living Psychology Publishers, Shy Mau Publishing Company, Hilit Publishing Co., Ltd., and Yi Qun.

There are many religious publishing houses in Taiwan. Most are Christian and Buddhist, and some operate on a considerable scale. Large Christian publishing houses include Taosheng Publishing, Kuangchi Cultural Group, Christian Cosmic Light, and Logos Publishers Limited. Large Buddhist publishing houses include Dharma Drum Publishing Corp., Gandha Samudra Culture Company, Fo Kuang Culture Enterprise Co., Ltd., Heavenly Lotus Publishing Co., Ltd., Buddhist Publishing House, Foguang University Press, and Torch of Wisdom Publishing House.

C. Magazine Publishing

Like book publishers, magazine publishers in Taiwan also face a fiercely competitive environment. Around 7,800 magazine publishers are registered with about 1,500 magazines available on the market. Other than annual publications and quarterly magazines and journals, there are about 600 magazines. From official statistics, 835 magazine publishers paid a total of NT$18.35 billion in taxes in 2000. Chun Tsiao Yeh’s Taiwan Commercial Magazines Market Report 2000 shows that magazine sales range from NT$30 to 50 billion. This includes NT$10 billion from advertising revenue—accounting for 8% of Taiwan media advertising total NT$80 billion—NT$10 billion from retail sales, and NT$15 billion from subscriptions.

The Taiwan Publishing Market Report 2000 recorded that the average capital of Taiwan magazine companies is around NT$33 million. 42% of these companies have capital less than NT$10 million, 14% between NT$10 and 50 million, 12% between NT$50 and 100 million and only 9% more than NT$100 million. Average annual sales of Taiwan magazine companies totals NT$65.7 million. The average staff number is around 58 and 38% have less than 20 employees, 20% between 20 and 50, 19% between 50 and 100, and 19% more than 100 staff. In terms of company structure, 50% are incorporated companies, 18% limited liability companies, and 16% are sole proprietorships. Fierce competition has led to high market entry costs. Presently, a monthly magazine needs starting capital of NT$20–30 million (US$584,795–877,193), and a weekly magazine requires about NT$50 million (US$1.46 million) to have a viable launch.

Taiwan magazine titles sell on average about 32,300 copies. 9% sell less than 4,000 copies, 15% between 4,000 and 10,000, 15% between 10,000 and 20,000, 24% between 20,000 and 50,000, 19% between 50,000 and 100,000, and only 5% more than 100,000 copies. In terms of distribution, 41% sell via their own distribution networks and sales agents, 38% rely totally on sales agents, and 15% distribute only largest via their own sales network.

Monthly magazines have the largest print runs, representing 40% of the total, followed in a descending order by quarterly, bimonthly, weekly, biweekly and magazines published every 10 days. According to an ACNielsen research, 28% of Taiwan readers prefer monthlies, and 16% favor weeklies. However, readers’ need for timely information has forced many magazine publishers to change their strategy and increase frequency. It is common to see monthly magazines move to two issues per month. Magazines focusing on finance, economics, specific industries, and business are the greatest in number, accounting for 20% of total titles, followed by, in a descending order, magazines focusing on: education and culture, religion, society, communication, medicine and health, engineering technology, agricultural-forest-fishery products, and local news. Each of these categories has more than 200 magazines.

Magazines focusing on current affairs, entertainment, fashion, foreign language studies, and finance and economics enjoy large sales. In the entertainment and fashion sector, imported magazines are the old favorites, such as Vogue, GQ, Marie Claire, and Elle. Gradually, locally produced titles have gained market share, such as Citta Bella, BEAUTY, Look, More Beautiful, My Birthday, Flea Market, and Taiwan Motor. Other magazines with a sizable market include travel and leisure magazines, such as Taipei Walker, Here!, and TO’GO; foreign language studies magazines such as Studio Classroom, Let’s Talk In English, Time Express and Ivy League Analytical English; financial and economic magazines such as Wealth Magazine, Money, and Common Wealth Monthly. Weekly magazines in Taiwan mainly focus on current affairs and news, and prominent ones include China Times Weekly, Business Weekly, Next Magazine, The Journalist, Win Win Weekly, TVBS and 4sight.

Common Wealth Monthly is one of the most influential political-economic magazines in Taiwan. It provides in-depth reports on political and economic issues and attracts readers from politics and business including intellectuals and management professionals. It has won the Golden Tripod Awards and the Asian Financial News Awards sponsored by Citibank several times. It contains interviews with many famous world political and business leaders, such as Kenichi Ohmae, Peter Drucker, Peter M. Senge, Michael E. Porter, Bill Gates, Akio Morita, Mahathir Mohammed, Lee Kuan Yew, and Fidel Ramos. The New York Times highly recommends the magazine, calling it “the first complete economic magazine in Taiwan.” This magazine’s annual report on the top 1,000 manufactures in Taiwan has become the most authoritative survey of its kind. The Common Wealth Monthly Company also publishes Common Health, Techvantage, Cheers, as well as operating the Common Life Publishing website ( and a bookstore (Book Garden.)

Citta Bella, a leading magazine on life and fashion, has a large readership primarily of young women and has sales of 20,000 copies. It has developed into a magazine group, publishing Citta Bella, Mom Baby, Marie Claire, and Shape, as well as establishing overseas operations.

Despite the fact that the number of literary magazines has fallen, some still have considerable influence such as Unitas, Crown Magazine, Ink Literary Monthly, Fiction Star Monthly, and Yaputao Literary Magazine. Unitas, sponsored by the United Daily News, is the most important serious literary magazine in Taiwan and is one of the most influential magazines in the Chinese literary world.

In recent years, magazine publishing has tended to become more internationalized as integrated magazine publishing groups have arisen. The local magazine groups include The Business Weekly Media Group, PCHome Corporation, and Common Wealth Magazine Publishing. The foreign joint-venture groups include China Times Magazines, Hachette Filipacchi, and Nong Nong Interculture Group. All have at least one well-known flagship magazine, which helps other group magazines with sales and distribution.

As foreign capital has flowed into Taiwan, entrepreneurs have begun to launch businesses abroad, investing in the Southeast Asian countries where Chinese is used, the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. Nong Nong is a leader in international expansion and in cooperation with Singapore Press Holdings, has released Citta Bella in Singapore while its subsidiary company, MomBaby, has published Ours in Malaysia.

Well-known magazine publishing personalities include China Times Weekly’s Ralph C. S. Chien, Common Wealth Monthly’s Diane Ying, Global Views Monthly’s Wang Li-Hsing, Business Weekly’s James Jin, Citta Bella’s Lisa Wu, Studio Classroom’s Doris Brougham, Vogue (Taiwan)’s Bentham Liu, Pursuing Righteousness’s Lin Hsien-Chang, Management Magazine’s Frank L. Hung, and Time Express’s Richard C. C. Huang.

Despite the great number of magazines published, some fields are poorly covered or largely ignored. For instance, there are less than 10 popular science magazines. Translated editions of foreign magazines, such as Newton Science Magazine, National Geographic, and Scientific American, have strong sales, but the local magazines of this type can hardly make ends meet. Subscriptions to Science and Nature have dropped to between 3,000 and 4,000.

D. Distribution and Publishing Organizations


Taiwan has a well-established distribution network with a variety of sales channels such as bookstores, direct, on-campus, and online. Bookstores sell the largest number of books, followed by mail order and online sales. Taiwan is full of bookstores. According to experts, there are more than 6,000 bookstores, and about 2,000 of them are over 33 square meters in size. The Taipei region is the largest publication sales market, accounting for 70% of total sales.

There are many bookstore chains in Taiwan. Since their initial development in the 1980s, the chains have spread all over the island. Prominent bookstore chains include King Stone, Eslite, Senseio Bookstore, Hess Bookstore, Caves Books, Q Books Center International, and Linking. (See Figure 6.4.) In addition, the 7-11 group also owns a chain with 48 outlets with 1,000 employees and annual sales of NT$6 billion (US$175.44 million). With a refined and elegant style, Eslite Bookstore has become a cultural landmark in Taiwan and Eslite’s founder Robert C. Y. Wu is a leading figure in Taiwan’s cultural arena.

King Stone, the first bookstore chain in Taiwan, has the greatest number of outlets at about 100, with two in Canada. Most of the stores are King Stone’s direct sales outlets, while 20% are affiliated stores. It employs about 1,140 staff and has annual sales of NT$3 billion (US$87.72 million), ranking second

in terms of revenue among all Taiwan bookstores chains. King Stone stocks nearly 200,000 titles, and it usually places about 40,000–50,000 on its shelves at any given time. Every month, King Stone brings in 1,200 new titles and sells about 600,000 books. Besides books, King Stone sells over 500 different magazines and operates an online bookstore.

Book wholesalers in Taiwan, known as book and newspaper houses, distribute 50–70% of the total. The most influential companies include Nung Hsueh Co., Ltd., Chan’s Book Syndicate, Li Ming, Red Ant, and Linking.

Nung Hsueh, the largest book wholesaler in Taiwan, represents more than 250 publishers, has many branches with over 660 employees, and annual sales of NT$1.3 billion (US$38.01 million). It has invested NT$400 million (US$11.7 million) to build a distribution center of 200,000 square meters. In addition to selling books, Nung Hsueh also provides warehousing for publishers and directly invests in publishing companies.

Direct sales contributed a considerable share when there were few bookstores and information spread slowly, and it has remained an important distribution channel. Many companies, such as Formosan Magazine Press, Chin Show Cultural Enterprise, Hwa I Book Co., Ltd., Newton Publishing, Han Sheng Company and Kwang Fu Enterprise Co. Group, all adopted this channel after their establishment and have expanded into large companies. Formosan Magazine Press starting with selling magazines like Reader’s Digest and is now the biggest direct sales company. Other than Formosan Magazine Press there are two other sizable direct sales companies, Chan’s Book and Tai Shiang Book. They both have about 900 employees and annual sales of NT$1.5 billion (US$43.86 million), sell about 630 magazines, 120 in Chinese and more than 500 in foreign languages. Their monthly distribution reaches 1.05 million total copies. Formosan Magazine Press has a very professional and highly effective sales division, with over 3.5 million customers in Taiwan. Over nearly 30 years, the company has sold 51 million magazines, i.e. 2.2 per person, or 7 per family.

In recent years, the increase of brick and mortar and online bookstores has led to a decline of direct sales. Direct sales are losing distribution share, and the number of such companies have gone under. Now only a few companies such as Formosan Magazine Press, Newton Publishing, and Taiwan Mac Educational Co., Ltd. continue to engage in direct sales exclusively.

A few publishing companies have also established distribution networks outside of Taiwan. These companies include Linking, Cheng Chung, Li Ming, and Cite. Among them, Linking possesses the strongest external distributing capacity. The United Daily News group owns more than 20 chain stores in North America and also has some business in Southeast Asia. Linking supplies books and magazines to these chain stores.

In addition to the above-mentioned sales channels, there are a large number of book clubs in Taiwan. Many publishing companies and bookstores have established their own clubs and some operate on a considerable scale, such as the ones sponsored by Yuan-Liou, Common Wealth Magazine, Cite, China Times Publishing, King Stone, Eslite, and

Taiwan has several large foreign language bookstores, Caves Books, Bookman, and Art Land Book Co., Ltd. all sell a great number of foreign books. Stores such as Eslite and Senseio Bookstore also carry foreign language books. Caves Books, started by selling foreign language books 50 years ago and has now become the most well-known bookstore in this sector. It owns several subsidiary companies including: foreign publisher agencies, foreign book sale and publishing, and in English training. Dozens of Caves Books outlets are scattered throughout the island, and it owns an office building of 2,145 square meters.

In distribution, it is impossible to omit book rental stores. A great number of such stores always exist in densely packed areas around middle or primary schools. Previously, those stores mainly rented out comic books, but now they include romantic novels and books on life and fashion. Several rental stores have worked hard to improve their sales and service quality, and have transformed themselves into chain stores. Currently, Star Bookstore, an investment of Taiwan Cardtek Co., Ltd. is the most well known and the largest book rental chain. It owns more than 120 stores and has 200,000 regular customers. The company has pleasant and elegant stores, recognizes the importance of establishing and promoting its brand name, and has set up a website.

The existence of so many rental stores will definitely affect the business of publishing companies and bookstores. This already has become a frequently mentioned topic among publishers.

Every year many book exhibitions are held in Taiwan. The biggest one is the Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE), started in 1987, and includes both copyright and book sales. Since 1998, it has been held annually in the first or second month of the year. It held its 12th exhibition on January 28, 2004.

Taiwan imports and exports a large number of publications. In the late 1990s, Taiwan imported over 31 million books, 27 million magazines and more than 8.5 million audio-video items, while exporting more than 20 million books, 5.5 million magazines and over 9 million audio-video items.

2. Publishing Organizations, Media, and Research

Many non-governmental publishing organizations exist in Taiwan. In book publishing, there are the Publishers Association of Taiwan, Taipei Association of Publishers, and China Book Publishing Development Foundation. In magazine publishing, there are The Taiwan Magazine Publications Association and Taipei Association of Magazine Publishers. In the press, there are the Taipei Association of Newspaper Presses and the Association of Taiwan Journalists. In audio-video publishing, there are the Association of Taiwan Audio-Visual Recording Professionals and the Taipei IFPI. In the distribution sector, there is the Book Issuing Association of Taiwan. In addition, some organizations focus on copyrights such as Taiwan Audio-Visual Music Copyright Owners Association.

It is easy to find current publication information in Taiwan. With many newspapers dedicating a special section to books, such as the China TimesBook Review, the United Daily NewsReader’s Choice, the Min Sheng NewsBook, GongshangshibaoDashufang, and the Central Daily News Reading. Among them, the biweekly China TimesBook Review and the United Daily NewsReader’s Choice are the most influential providers of publication information and news. The Min Sheng News also is known for its reports on culture and publications. (See Figure 6.5.)

Magazines focusing on providing publication information include Publication Information, Publication Circulation, Publication Publishers, Publisher, Eslite Reader, Wen-hsun and New Book Information Monthly. Publication Information, a monthly sponsored by King Stone Culture Square, a King Stone chain store, prints 40,000 copies each issue and is free for customers. Its annual special edition summarizes publication achievements of the past year and provides King Stone’s list on popular books and sales information. It is a very important

reference for the publishing market. Publication Circulation, a monthly sponsored by Nung Hsueh, provides book and magazine sales information for book sales outlets. Eslite Reader is sponsored by Eslite and offers both book and sales information. Its readers are mainly chain store members and it also attracts the attention of publishers and intellectuals. Previously, it was distributed to chain store members but in March 2004 it shifted to a formal subscription model. Publication Publishers and Publisher are organizational publications of the Taipei Association of Publishers and the Taiwan Association of Book Publishers, respectively. Wen-hsun focuses on providing information on art and literature, especially on Taiwanese contemporary culture, and is the most influential literary magazine. New Book Information Monthly, a comprehensive magazine on book information, introduces new books and publishes book reviews, as well as providing information on writers, their works and other related publication information. In addition, the Taiwan Information Office publishes Publication Yearbook.

Many TV and radio stations in Taiwan air reading programs with well-known programs including China Radio’s Book Fragrance Society, News98’s Book Talk with Ca Chuen Chang, and the Police Radio Station’s Making Friends with Books. TV programs include PTS’s No TV Today and CTITV’s Reading Room. Some professional websites also provide publication information, such as, and online bookstores like

Higher education specializing in publishing began to develop in the late 1990s in Taiwan. The Publishing Research Institute of Nanhua University was formed in 1997 and is the first higher education institution specializing in publishing research in Taiwan.

E. Audio-Visual Publishing and Online Bookstores

1.Audio-Video Publishing

There are about 2,360 registered audio-visual publishing houses (known as record companies in Taiwan), of which only about 200 are actually in operation. According to statistics from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (Taiwan IFPI), in 2001, 500,000 cassettes and 17.5 million CDs were sold in Taiwan, with total retail sales totaling NT$5.78 billion (US$169 million).

Prior to 1999, audio-visual sales in Taiwan had always been comparatively high, surpassing the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, ranked top among Asian countries, second only to Japan. In recent years, however, the impact of piracy and the advent of MP3 technology has led to a considerable decline of the recording industry. Many companies went out of business and a majority of the surviving companies were forced to cut down their classical music projects to focus mostly on pop music with greatly reduced production volumes and personnel. Now annual sales of audiovisual products in Taiwan has dropped to NT$5 billion (US$146.2 million) from more than NT$10 billion, a decline of 50%.

Current prominent audio-visual publishing houses in Taiwan include Rock Records Co., Ltd., Forward Music Co., Ltd., Linfair Records Limited, What’s Music Internationl Inc., Sunrise International Entertainment Corp., Magic Stone Music Co., Ltd., Avex Taiwan Inc., and Poem Culture. Well-known international records companies such as BMG Music, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music, EMI, and Universal Music have all set up branches in Taiwan, and these have become market leaders. The above international “Big Five” and Rock Records are known in Taiwan as the “Big Six.”

Rock Records is the well-known record company started in Taiwan and was founded by Tuan Chung Tan in 1981 with only several employees. The company had rapid development and soon became the most influential recording company because of its good management, excellent talent recruitment, and originality in exploring new types of music. Today, Rock Records is the most well-known record company for Chinese music. Producing original songs and pursuing high quality music have been crucial for Rock Records’ success. Prominent singers with Rock Records include Luo Da You, Chen Shu Hua, Lee Tsung Sheng, Chao Chuan, and Emil Chow. These singers have continuously released popular songs and have been great successes for the company. The originality of Rock Records enables the company to always be in front of the pack. Currently, Rock Records employs more than 100 people, has many branches and affiliated companies overseas, and it runs Adm, a famous advertising magazine in Taiwan.

Five main features of the audio-visual market in Taiwan have become apparent in recent years:

First, it is the most mature and active region in the Chinese market where professionalism prevails in both the production and distribution of audio-visual products. The recording companies benefit greatly from many excellent talents in the areas of production, planning, and distribution.

Second, the market is very diversified. While Chinese dominates the mainstream, foreign works also are able to take a sizeable share. Of the foreign titles, Japanese and Korean are the most popular, followed by European and American.

Third, in recent years, the market has begun to weaken and decline, especially over the last two years, reaching the lowest point of the past 10 years. In 1995, the Taiwanese bought two records per capita, spending US$15.90, and the audio-visual market totaled US$336 million, ranking 17th in the world. But in the last two years, this amount has been cut by half.

Fourth, it has close cooperation with the Chinese mainland, where Taiwan’s audio-visual professionals and artistes go to seek new markets. In recent years, many Taiwan audio-visual professionals have gone to the Chinese mainland and have established close ties with their Chinese mainland counterparts that has never been reached before. For example, over the last two years no records of Taiwanese singers have sold more than 400,000 copies in Taiwan, but sales in the Chinese mainland have reached 700,000–800,000 copies on occasion.

Fifth, the copyright dispute between records companies and the media such as cable TV is basically over. With effort from the “Big Six” including Rock Records and BMG Music, and copyright organizations such as The Audio-Visual Music Copyright Owners Association, Taiwan cable TV companies have reached agreements with various audio-visual copyright organizations and have begun to remunerate the copyright owners.

2. Online Bookstores

The first online bookstore in Taiwan was, which opened in December 1995. The number of major online bookstores in Taiwan have since increased to about 30, including:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and

Most online bookstores in Taiwan are operated by publishing houses, bookstores, and IT companies. Of those mentioned above,,,,, are managed by publishers;,, and are run by bookstores, and a few such as and, are operated by IT companies. This shows that publishing professionals are highly interested in online book sales.

The management of these online bookstores is very similar. While some of the stores have developed their own style, not only has the longest history but also has received comparatively the largest investment. In order to accelerate delivery, it has established cooperation with Taiwan’s well-known 7-11 chain, which enables the buyer to pick up the book ordered at the nearest 7-11 two days after the purchase. The largest online bookstore,, operated by a publisher contains many reviews with rich content and provides very good customer service. Yuan-Liou Publishing House is also one of the few publishers that has invested heavily in online sales. operated by Common Wealth Magazine Co., Ltd. sells mostly books published by the publisher itself and provides various book introductions, including content related to Common Wealth Magazine. was formed recently but is known for being the first to adopt POD (print-on-demand) technology in the Chinese book industry. All of the above online bookstores are managed in Taipei, except for, which is operated in southern Taiwan.

After experiencing the Internet bubble, online bookstores are slowly entering into a period of stable growth. In 2002, major online bookstores such as,,, and grew. announced that its membership had surpassed 300,000, and stated that its annual sales reached NT$140 million (US$4.09 million). In order to attract more visitors, the online bookstores are consistently updating their content and adding more services. For example, has China Encyclopedia and the British Encyclopedia online for readers to search for information, provides customized bookstore service, and attempts to make its book search service faster. However, it is worth noting that the regular bookstore with the highest number of book sales—Eslite, began to curtail its huge investment in online bookstores starting in May 2002 and has also reduced investment in advertising.

F. Outside Investment in Taiwan

Companies outside Taiwan began to invest in the publishing industry from the 1980s, and by the mid-1990s such investment reached a major scale. Foreign investment brings in experience that publishers can learn from, and also increases competition. Generally, there are two kinds of capital entering Taiwan, that from foreign countries, and investment from Hong Kong.

1. Foreign Investment

Before the 1980s only a few foreign publications were sold in Taiwan, typically Reader’s Digest and book series from Time-Life Books. Taiwan’s biggest direct sales company, Formosan Magazine Press, started by representing foreign publishers and had rapid growth.

In the middle and late 1980s, foreign companies began to invest in Taiwan directly, establishing joint-venture bookstores and publishing companies. The first pioneers were Japanese companies, including Tohan Publishing Inc., Kinokuniya Company Ltd., and Nippan. European and Western companies arrived during the 1990s and, at present, there is Hachette Filipacchi Media from France; McGraw-Hill, Conde Nast, and Hearst Corporation from the United States; Longman Publishing Corporation from Britain; Popular Book Co., Page One, and Singapore Press Holdings from Singapore. In audio-video, large international companies such as the Universal Music Group, EMI Records Ltd., BMG Entertainment International Ltd., Warner, Sony, and MCA have all established branches in Taiwan.

Foreign investors can establish both independent companies and joint ventures in publishing and distribution. Three different models have been explored by foreign investors.

First, joint ventures have been formed to publish and distribute foreign publications. For instance, Hearst works with Hwa Ker Publishing Co., Ltd. to publish the Taiwan editions of Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire; Hachette Filipacchi and its local partner produce Taiwan editions of Ella and Car & Driver; Japan’s Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co., Ltd. and Sumitomo Corporation works with Taiwan’s Choice Group and have formed Taiwan Kadokawa Shoten, publishing Taipei Walker and other titles.

Ownership in these joint ventures varies. For Taiwan Kadokawa Shoten, 79% is held by the Japanese and 21% by the local company. Hachette Filipacchi Taiwan holds 51% shares, while the local company holds 49%.

All Taiwan editions generally contain local content. China Times, the original local producer for Marie Claire (Taiwan edition), buys 25% of the content for each issue from the French parent company. Taiwan companies pay high copyrights fees to their foreign parent firms and sometimes pay an extra 5–10% of profits. Local companies are responsible for advertising in the Chinese edition and take full control of the advertising revenue. Nong Nong now publishes Marie Claire (Taiwan edition), which contains 30% local content.

The second business model is the establishment of a branch or subsidiary company in Taiwan. Many companies have followed this path, such as Tohan, Kinokuniya, Nippan and Benesse Corporation from Japan; Reader’s Digest, McGraw-Hill, and Conde Nast from America; and Popular Holdings Ltd. from Singapore. The local companies publish Chinese editions of the magazines and books that their parent companies hold the copyright to, and occasionally produce publications by local writers or with local content.

In book publishing, Taiwan McGraw-Hill, formed in 1993 and with more than 30 employees, is typical. Its mission statement is “to make world wisdom known to China and Chinese wisdom known to the world.” The first half indicates a short-term goal, translating foreign books into Chinese; and the second half reveals a long-term objective, translating Chinese books into foreign languages. This company does not invest large amounts in publishing as many books as possible and then promoting them with advertisements. Instead, it adopts a relatively conservative strategy, publishing only 20–30 titles annually. Its publications focus on series for management professionals and educational subjects. The first books were translations, including Resumes Don’t Get Jobs, Working with Americans, Top Dog: A Different Kind of Book About Becoming an Excellent Leader, How To Run A Small Business, Maximarketing For The Winner, I’ll Get Back To You, Tips For Teams: A Ready Reference for Solving Common Team Problems, and The New Positioning. It has now published over 300 titles in Chinese. Among them, Adventures of A Bystander, The Greenspan Effect: Words That Move the World Markets, and The Coming Biotech Age: The Business of Bio-Materials respectively won China Times’ Top Ten Best Books Award, King Stone’s Annual Most Influential Book Award, and Eslite’s Annual Best Book Award. In addition, the company has published books by Chinese authors, such as Chinese Economy: Understanding theWorld’s Biggest Economic Entity, Catching Opportunities of the Chinese mainland Market Economy, written by the Chinese mainland’s leading economists Cai Fang and Li Yifu. Also, it is worth noting that the company has already started to select Chinese books for English translation, the first one being Stan Shih’s Computer Legends. Taiwan McGraw-Hill has set up a Chinese website,

The third business model is publishing local books and magazines through a joint effort of Taiwan and foreign publishers. For example, Lian Ya Century Publishing, established by Nong Nong, Singapore Press Holdings, Burda GmbH Co., Ltd., and Italy’s Li Zuo Co., publishes Living, with circulation in both Taiwan and Singapore.

2. Investment From Other Areas of China

Hong Kong is a major investor in Taiwan with the two prominent companies being the Next Media Group and Tom Group. Next Media issues Next Magazine in Taiwan, which attracts reporters and editors with high salaries and mainly provides gossip news, dedicated to revealing secrets of politicians, industrial and business leaders, and famous entertainers. Each issue has up to 120,000–140,000 copies, ranking highly in the weekly distribution. It also issues the Apple Daily newspaper. World famous businessman Li Ka-shing’s Tom Group spent about NT$3 billion (US$87.72 million) between 2001 and 2003 acquiring three publishing companies in Taiwan and restructured them into Cite, the largest publishing corporation on the island. In July 2003, the newly formed Cite group received loans of NT$1.88 billion (US$54.97 million) on different terms from five international financial organizations including DBS, Credit Lyonnais, United Overseas Bank, Bank SinoPac, and Scotiabank. This was the first time in the Taiwan region or even all of China that a publisher received a syndicated loan.

Failures exist with successes. Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. from Canada established a branch in Taiwan but it later had to withdraw due to poor management. Formed in 1982, Hong Kong Reader’s Digest Limited (Taiwan Branch) has cut down the number of employees from several dozens to six or seven. People (Taiwan edition), authorized distributor of its Chinese editions, stopped distribution in Taiwan after the contract expired.

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The Publishing Industry of Taiwan

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