The Taipei City Government has spent more than NT$350 million (US$12 million) in the past five years on government publications with a low sale ratio of 3.24 percent, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Wu Su-yao (吳思瑤) said yesterday, urging the city government to use its budget to promote electronic publications.
Over the five years, the city government published more than 788 kinds of official publications totaling 20 million volumes to promote city policies and projects.
About 97,600 of these publications are for sale, which led to a deficit of more than NT$55 million.
“The city government is like a publishing house with every department rushing to print, give out or sell books. It has failed to carry out its promise to go paperless with government publications,” she told a press conference held at the Taipei City Council.
In 2011 alone, the city government published 122 official statistical reports, including yearbooks, communiques and pamphlets.
The height of the free government publications piled up is 338km, which is 6.6 times the height of the Taipei 101 Mall, she said.
Information provided by Taipei City’s Research, Development and Evaluation Commission showed that of the books published in 2011, only the Taipei City Sign Language Translation Textbook, issued by the Department of Labor Affairs, generated a profit, earning NT$200,000.
The Department of Information and Tourism and the Department of Cultural Affairs, which produced the most publications among all departments, spent large amounts of money on publications that led only to deficits.
The division chief at the Department of Information and Tourism, Huang Hui-ching (黃惠靜), said the department allocated about NT$30 million every year for publications that aim to promote the city’s development and tourism.
Publications that introduced top attractions in the city and offered travel tips, such as Meet Taipei, have been popular among both local and foreign visitors, Huang said.
The department has also offered an electronic version of its monthly magazine — Discover Taipei — since 2007, and provided the magazine’s app as a free download in an effort to promote paperless publications, she said.
The division chief at the Department of Cultural Affairs, Kuo Pei-yu (郭佩瑜), said that most of the department’s publications aim at preserving historical and cultural information.
These publications may not generate much profit, but it is the department’s obligation to issue them, Kuo said.