|Ready to read: Customers choose books at a book festival in HCM City in March. Smuggled reading materials are a major challenge for publishers. — Photo windeal.vn
HCM CITY (VNS) — The strong sales of books and magazines, especially imports, has improved the local market, but higher demand has also brought more smuggled reading materials from illegal publishers and distributors.
Speaking at a forum held in HCM City last week, Pham Minh Thuan, general director of the HCM City Book Distribution Company (Fahasa), said the loose co-ordination between management and distribution had contributed to the proliferation of fraud.
Cultural and information authorities as well as printers and distributors, he said, should work together to control the market.
The forum, organised by the Viet Nam Publishers ‘Association, attracted dozens of State-owned and private publishing houses and distributors in HCM City and neighbouring provinces.
"The Viet Nam Publishers Association needs to increase its fight against illegal products. It should call on people to say no to smuggled books," Thuan said.
The lack of awareness and responsibility among domestic consumers who passively accept illegal products, particularly language-learning books, also contributed to the boom in depraved media, he explained.
Despite efforts by licensed book distributors and importers in recent years to sell competitively priced goods, the distribution and trading of smuggled reading products had spiralled out of control.
According to the city's Market Management Department, more than 13,000 English learning books for children and 16,000 comics under copyright of the Education Publishing House Branch in HCM City, one of the region's most prestigious printing companies, were printed illegally last year.
Market management control agencies have uncovered several hundred thousand of illegal reading materials every year, with many of them having illicit content, including pornographic books and magazines, and books of superstitious practices.
Despite warnings by authorities, many people are eager to buy smuggled products. In turn, illegal traders take advantage of this wide-spread practice to earn high profits.
According to unofficial figures, HCM City has more than 1,000 bookstores, including State-run shops, many of them owned by publishing houses, which have a wide selection of books ranging from local to imported works.
Visitors can find an array of smuggled books, from foreign language books on science and literature to books on horoscopes, palm reading and other types of fortune-telling, in Vietnamese.
In addition to street retailers, wholesalers also illegally trade in products and tapes with depraved content, including pornographic books, magazines and videotapes. The bonus is that they are all tax-free.
The sale of smuggled books has caused the government to lose revenue, while tainting the minds of the population, observers have said.
Responsible authorities are unable to pinpoint the exact number of bookstores offering smuggled books and other printed materials, and thus cannot manage the situation.
"To cope with the problem, stronger efforts must be made by responsible officials. Agencies responsible for importing and distributing printed items should join efforts with relevant offices to improve their capacity and effectiveness," Nguyen Minh Nhut, director of the Tre (Youth) Publishing House, said. — VNS