08 March 2006

Bookstores and a Scary Chart

This is a somewhat short and rambling post. I forgot to include a chart that my friend Dave drew for me while we were tormenting our livers the other night. It is a chart that was drawn for him by an investment banker friend who does business in China. According to the investment banker - who has worked in China for a dozen or more years, everything a business person does there falls into one of two categories: "Greed," the positive factors that motivate you; and "Fear," the negative factors that motivate. Here's how the chart looks (sorry that I couldn't figure out how to format a chart on the blog):


Family *
Bodily Harm
Authority (government / police)
Capricious regulation

* Family makes you vulnerable.

I was once arrested and held overnight in China for wandering into the wrong place with my camera. And I once had to pay bribes to get a vitally important interview. I never had anything much to do with money, women or power there. I don't think I've got the stomach to do business in China.

Hong Kong is a different matter though. It can be a real pleasure to do business here. At least on the low level that I have. Yesterday I was taken around to a couple of bookstores by Claudia, a very nice, well read and interesting woman who works with Pan Macmillan Asia - the distributor of THE LIVING ROOM OF THE DEAD in this part of the world. It was fun seeing my book for sale in shops that I used to frequent when I lived here, even if it wasn't exactly huge stacks of it. Hardbacks are a hard sell here, the distributors are anxious for a paperback to come out. So am I. I was surprised at the price - less than I would have thought. The book sells for $22.95 in the U.S. and for HK$218 (US$28 approximately) here.

There are a number of new and bigger than ever bookshops in Hong Kong, but real estate is just too expensive to allow for any of the big box stores that we have in the U.S. I imagine a Borders or a Barnes and Noble would cause havoc in the book selling marketplace here. There is a huge Borders in Singapore, but that's a roomier place - sort of.

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