Chou Sing Chu 周星衢

Introduction

Chou Sing Chu (周星衢) (1905–1986) was born in Shanghai, China. His family was originally from Pinghu City, Zhejiang Province. Founder of the Popular Bookstore, Chou was also recognised as a leader in the Chinese publishing industry in Southeast Asia. Due to impoverished circumstances, Chou only received three years of education before becoming an apprentice in a bookstore. His affinity with books was due to his time spent at the bookstore. Chou came to Singapore when he was 19 and set up the Cheng Hing Company in 1924. The company imported new year pictures and western paintings from Shanghai.

In 1934, he established World Book Company to publish and distribute Chinese books. Popular Book Company was established in 1936 as the retail arm of World Book Company. Chou expanded his business to Hong Kong in 1949, setting up the World Publishing Company and later, Educational Publishing House. These two publishing houses played a vital role in promoting Chinese culture for youths. Popular Holdings Limited was listed in the Singapore Exchange in 1997. It is the largest bookstore chain selling bilingual and educational products. Chou’s youngest son, Chou Cheng Ngok, established the Chou Sing Chu Foundation in 2004 to continue his father’s spirit in promoting Chinese language and education.

 

 

Selected books on Chou Sing Chu

  • Chou Sing Chu Foundation. (2016). Passage of time: Singapore bookstore stories 1881–2016. Singapore: Chou Sing Chu Foundation, pp. 62–71.
    Call no.: RSING 070.5095957 CHO
    This title contains the history of World Book Company and its founder, Chou Sing Chu. The particular chapter discusses the establishment and growth of the bookstore and its rise to becoming a household name and leader in the Chinese publishing industry. A Chinese version of the book is also available.

 

  • Tong, F. S. (2009). Dynamics of family business: The Chinese way. Singapore: Cengage Learning Asia, pp. 189–205.
    Call no.: RSING 658.045095957 TON
    The book contains an interview conducted with Chou Cheng Ngok, chairman and director of Popular Holdings Limited. Chou shared the history of Popular Bookstore and his father’s, Chou Sing Chu, involvement with the family business in the early years.

 

  • 曹蓉主编 [Cao, R. (Ed.).] (2014). 诗书滋味长 : 大众集团九十周年特刊 (1924–2014). [The bouquet of scholarship has a long finish: Popular 90th anniversary commemorative issue]. 新加坡: 大众控股有限公司, pp. 52–59.
    Call no.: RSING 381.45002 BOU
    This is a commemorative publication celebrating the 90th anniversary of Popular Bookstore. It contains a history of the founder, Chou Sing Chu and how he set up the company and a summary of an interview “30 years in publishing: World Book Company’s managing director looks back” conducted with Chou and published in the newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau in 1958. The book is in both English and Chinese.

 

  • 曹蓉主编 [Cao, R. (Ed.).] (2005). 诗书滋味长: 大众集团八十周年特刊 . [Bouquet of scholarship has a long finish: Popular 80th anniversary commemorative issue]. 新加坡: 大众控股有限公司, pp. 98–101.
    Call no.: RSING 381.45002 BOU
    This is a commemorative publication celebrating the 80th anniversary of Popular Bookstore. It features an interview with Lan Zhen who had worked with Chou Sing Chu when he was the manager of Hong Kong’s Joint Publishing.

 

  • 柯木林, 林孝胜 & 张清江. (主编). [Ke, M. L., Lin, X, S. & Zhang, Q. J. (Ed.).] (2015). 新加坡华人通史 [A general history of the Chinese in Singapore]. 新加坡: 新加坡宗乡会馆, p. 761.
    Call no.: RSING 959.57004951 GEN
    Appended at the end of this title are biographies of 50 prominent Chinese who had contributed to the Singapore Chinese community in one way or another. Chou Sing Chu’s biography is included.

 

 

Selected newspaper articles on Chou Sing Chu

  • 记周星衢先生. (1999, October 8). 联合早报, p. 74. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    The article gives a short biography of Chou Sing Chu and his career in publishing.

 

  • 世界书局创办人周星衢先生仙逝. (1986, May 17). 联合晚报, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    This is an obituary of Chou Sing Chu in Chinese. It offers a look-back on Chou’s family business, his notable contributions to the Chinese publishing industry and how he established Popular Bookstore.

 

 

  • 關於星馬華校的教科書. (1958, January 1). 南洋商报, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    This is an article written by Chou Sing Chu, which chronicles the progress of producing a set of Chinese textbooks with Malayan content.

 

  • 一年來星洲之書業談. (1929, January 1). 南洋商报, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    This is an article written by Chou Sing Chu, which summarises the ups and downs of the Chinese publishing industry in 1928.

 

  • [Untitled]. (1986, May 17). The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    This is an obituary of Chou Sing Chu, who passed away on 15 May 1986. It also lists the names of his descendants.

Written by Mervin Teo