A Chinese writer and the publishers

Reading  梁文道:从抄袭来的《货币战争》看我们对无知的恐惧, From plagiarism to the “currency war” to see our ignorance of fear. I couldn’t help but to recount my own, not on ignorance of fear but on plagiarism and the Chinese publishing industry.

imageThese ten books on my shelve are from the same writer. I cartooned the picture on purpose. Three of them were purchased by myself and seven were gift.

This Chinese writer specializes in the oral history of the prominent Shanghai families in the by gone era. I came across this writer’s book when I have already began my genealogy research.

Around 1996, I acquired first two books, someone I once sued brought them from Taipei.
In 2003, I bought one more in Beijing.
In 2010, I received four as gift in Shanghai, the writer autographed them
In 2012,a relative gifted me three in a collection, she was one of the subjects in the book.

The writer spent time in researching and pieced them together straightforwardly. However, most of those books, (the writer published far more than what I have) are, essentially the same: same stories with minor changes, then published under different cover, title and publisher.

I am annoyed if not outraged. At the long lunch that day I didn’t question the writer if it’s the doing of the publishers or the writer’s own.

This would be a professional suicide if it were in the West. Both the writer and publisher’s name would be tarnished. (Remember Marguerite Duras, as an established author, she took critics for publishing The North China Lover after The Lover?) It’s morally wrong.

At the lunch in Shanghai that afternoon, one of my relatives who is also a published author in Shanghai, said clearly and firmly that he would NOT do such a thing, no matter what pressure (bitter or sweet) a publisher puts on him. So glad to know. Professional integrity and moral high ground are the key elements that drive us to excellence.

 
昨天阅读了 梁文道:从抄袭来的《货币战争》看我们对无知的恐惧, 深有感触. 不是恐惧无知,而是中国出版业的抄袭。

我书架上的这十本书都是同一个作者 (特意漫画化了一下)。三本是我自己购买,七本是礼物。这个中国作者专门写关于老上海名门望族人家的口述历史。我知道这个作者的书时,已经开始了我的家谱研究。

1996年,我获得了两本书 (一个和我对簿过公堂的人替我在台北买的)。
2003年,我在北京买了一本。
2010年,我在上海收到四本作为礼品,作者亲临签名。
2012年,三本 (一集)亲戚送的

作者花时间研究采访,故事都是直截了当地写的。然而,大多数的书(该作者出版的书远远超过我所拥有)都是换汤不换药: 同一个故事,轻微的改变一下,放进不同的书里,换个封面,标题和出版商。。

我有种受欺骗的感觉。在那天长长的午饭中,我没有问作者是自己的主意还是出版社的。

在西方这将是一个专业的自杀。无论是作者还是出版商,他们的名称会受损。 (还记得杜拉斯,作为一个定的作者,她因为在出版了情人之后又出版了中国北方情人,曾经受到非议)。这是不道德的。在这个午餐上,我的一个亲戚也在上海出版了书,他就清晰而坚定地说,他不会做这样的事情,不管出版商给什么压力(苦或甜)。

其实职业操守和道德制高点是推动我们奔向卓越的关键要素。

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