Editorial Inventions and Interventions: The Story of CUP

<em>(Photos by ISO staff)</em>

Since its establishment in 1977, The Chinese University Press (CUP) has been known internationally for its high-quality academic publishing in both the Chinese and the English languages. However, it has not turned its back on the lay readership.

The summer of 2017 is busy harvest for CUP. Among 11 books receiving the 10th Annual Hong Kong Book Prize this year, three of them were published by CUP, the largest share of awards by a single publisher. Moreover, five CUP publications also received the First Hong Kong Publishing Biennial Awards while three newly released books were selected among the ‘Ten Best Books of 2017 Hong Kong Book Fair by Economic Observer’. (see table)

   Ms. Gan Qi

Ms. Gan Qi, Director of CUP, said, ‘Over the past decade we have built a strong bilingual editorial team with members who are creative and passionate about publishing. We believe that the only way to achieve excellence is to love what you do──and it has been wonderful receiving recognitions from our readers and the industry by doing the work we truly enjoy.’

 

Thinking (in) Hong Kong

‘CUP has a two-pronged mission: innovation in knowledge and dissemination of knowledge. Our books are therefore intended for the academia as well as for the general public,’ said Dr. Lin Ying, assistant director and editorial manager of CUP.

‘To achieve these goals, CUP started the “Bordertown Thinker Series” a few years ago. We invite young scholars in Hong Kong to publish books on local issues for a wider audience. These publications are based on solid academic research but presented in a reader-friendly manner. The Series, under which 11 titles have been released so far, has won the attention and admiration of the reading public.’

‘To take an example, Twenty Shades of Freedom: Media Censorship Routines in Hong Kong written by Dr. Allan Au, professional consultant of the School of Journalism and Communication at CUHK, offers an insider’s view on censorship in the local news industry. It was based on Dr. Au’s PhD dissertation in English. Upon the suggestion from CUP, the author has successfully transformed the dissertation into a comprehensive, easy-to-read Chinese book. When the book was released at this year’s Hong Kong Book Fair, it was sold out almost instantly and had to be reprinted within a week,’ said Dr. Ye Minlei, acquisition editor of CUP.

CUP’s editorial team: <em>(From left)</em> Dr. Yuan Zaijun, Dr. Ye Minlei, Ms.  &nbsp;Lin Xiao, Dr. Lin Ying, Dr. Yang Yanni, Mr. Li Wenbo, Mr. Brian Yu and  Ms. Rachel Pang

Untold Labours of Love

Sometimes a book did not get written as a book at first. One of the examples is Six Facets of the Chinese Cultural Tradition by Prof. Leo Lee, Sin Wai Kin Professor of Chinese Culture at CUHK. The book is a compilation of Professor Lee’s lecture notes for the general education course he taught at the University.

As editor of the book, Lin Xiao had to turn the transcripts into a book, suggesting necessary changes or advising the author to supply additional information. She found it challenging and enjoyed every moment of it. She said, ‘It is the honour of every editor to collaborate with the author in transforming his/her work into an award-winning publication.’

One of CUP’s editors, Brian Yu, was a student of Prof. Chow Po-chung of the Department of Government and Public Administration at CUHK. He was reunited with his former mentor by the assignments of two award-winning books by Professor Chow, Political Morality: From a Liberal Point of View and Philosophical Notes on ‘The Little Prince’.

Philosophical Notes on ‘The Little Prince’ is partly made up of Professor Chow’s online posts and column articles. Brian needed to pay attention to how to integrate those into publishable contents. The result proved to be a tremendous success──the book became very popular among readers of all generations and, apart from the 10th Annual Hong Kong Book Prize, it has also won ‘The 28th Secondary School Students Good Book Election’.

Another CUP editor, Dr. Yang Yanni, was a student of Prof. Leonard Chan of the Education University of Hong Kong. She was assigned to edit Professor Chan’s Hong Kong in Its History of Lyricism, a book hailed by Prof. Lo Wai-luen to be laying down the mould for the literary history of Hong Kong. Yanni spent a long time working with the designer on the cover, until she came across a sketch of Hong Kong’s old streets. She thought the sketch would best represent the book’s nostalgic sentiment. She said, ‘The more an author puts his/her trust in me, the more resolved I am to do a perfect job.’

Rachel Pang, a CUP editor who’s very particular about the aesthetic appearance of the entire book, emphasized that a book cover not only has to be attractive but also needs to match the book’s style and content.

As the editor of Footprints of a Hongkonger, Rachel chose a photo of the eponymous Hongkonger, all smiles and sleeves rolled up, for the cover. According to Rachel, the photo matched perfectly the subject’s personality and represented him as a down-to-earth, friendly and approachable man. The blurb on the belly-band: ‘A 95-year-old son of Hong Kong who has weathered war and peace in all walks of life’ gives an unerring local flavour to the book.

‘In the future, I would like to spend more time on book-spine design, as that’s the only part visible to the readers when a book is shelved,’ said Rachel.

Benefits of All and Narrowness of None

Members of CUP have not been settling for less than perfection. It is therefore not surprising to find an increasing number of influential authors who would entrust their brainchildren to CUP. Ms. Gan concluded, ‘CUP is at the cross-currents of many fronts and cultures, and that’s an edge to us. We have the benefits of all and the narrowness of none. As long as we continue to do what we’re doing we can be assured of contributions to the academia and to the general literacy of the society.’

Titles

Authors

Editors

Awards

(1) Six Facets of the Chinese Cultural Tradition

Leo Ou-fan Lee

Lin Xiao

- The 10th Hong Kong Book Prize
- The First Hong Kong Publishing Biennial Award: Literature and Fiction Category

(2) Philosophical Notes on ‘The Little Prince’

Chow Po-chung

Brian Yu

- The 10th Hong Kong Book Prize

(3) Political Morality: From a Liberal Point of View (enlarged edition)

Chow Po-chung

Brian Yu

- The First Hong Kong Publishing Biennial Award: Social Sciences Category

(4) The Life of Waste: Economy, Community and Space in a Beijing Scavengers’ Site

Wu Ka-ming, Zhang Jieying

Brian Yu

- The First Hong Kong Publishing Biennial Award: Social Sciences Category

(5) Constructive Conservation of Citizens’ Community: The Case of Kai Tak Redevelopment 

Wallace Chang

Brian Yu

- The First Hong Kong Publishing Biennial Award: Social Sciences Category

(6) Hong Kong in Its History of Lyricism

Leonard Chan Kwok-kou

Yang Yanni 

- The 10th Hong Kong Book Prize
- The First Hong Kong Publishing Biennial Award: Literature and Fiction Category

(7) Twenty Shades of Freedom: Media Censorship Routines in Hong Kong 

Allan K.L. Au

Brian Yu

- One of the Ten Best Books of 2017 Hong Kong Book Fair by Economic Observer

(8) The Inside and Outside of Historical China: A Reclarification of the Concept of ‘China’ and Its ‘Borders’

Ge Zhaoguang

Yang Yanni

- One of the Ten Best Books of 2017 Hong Kong Book Fair by Economic Observer

(9) Footprints of a Hongkonger: Oral History by Ho Ming Sze

Written and recorded by Liu Tik-sang

Rachel Pang

- One of the Ten Best Books of 2017 Hong KongBook Fair by Economic Observer

 

This article was originally published in No. 502, Newsletter.