THE introduction of a computerised book distribution and management system has had a marked increase in the efficiency and profits of the Chung Hwa Book Co. ''Computers are now being introduced not only in hi-tech organisations but by companies of various sizes and operations, from manufacturers through to ordinary retail operations,'' said Savio Tang, Chung Hwa's marketing sales manager. ''So, it was only natural that we decided to follow the trend,'' he added. ''We installed a Book Distribution Management system from Altos Computers System in 1990 to streamline our inventory and sales management. ''The total solutions offered by the system meet our business needs. Our books distribution work demands team work, and the multi-user UNIX system installed by Altos satisfies our needs,'' he said. A subsidiary of the United Publication Group, Chung Hwa, which was established in Shanghai in 1912, first set up shop in Hongkong in 1927. Its operations have spread to Beijing, Taiwan and Singapore. Its four divisions of publication, distribution, retail and accounting manage different activities, including paper-making, book editing, distribution and sales. Chung Hwa distributes not only books published by it in Hongkong and China but titles from other publishers. ''The large number of titles we distribute means complicated and time-consuming work procedures. The use of our new distribution and management system has significantly cut down on labour and costs,'' Mr Tang said. Chung Hwa has installed a UNIX-based Chinese-language computing system, which includes a 32-bit central processing unit, eight terminals - including two that are remote - and several printers. ''By feeding in the appropriate commands through the terminals, we can print out a delivery note in Chinese,'' Mr Tang said. ''The delivery note will clearly state the title of the book, item and invoice number.'' The Altos Book Distribution Management system is simple to operate without prior training. At the same time, the system was capable of handling a number of complex data processing functions like price adjustment, sales, return sales, consignment merchandise, return consignment merchandise, loss record, purchased merchandise and purchased merchandise return according, to Mr Tang. On request, the system also produces statistical graphs and handles book enquiries. ''This state-of-the-art system - which cost about $500,000 to install - has helped to reduce the increasing work load of our distribution department,'' Mr Tang said. ''Earlier, the distribution department had to invest a lot of time and labour to tackle repetitive tasks like inventory control, billing, retail and storage.'' The magnitude of the problem faced by the company becomes clear when one considers the number of new titles distributed every year by the company - about 80 are published in the territory, and 1,000 by its mainland branches. It distributes another 200 titles from other publishers. Chung Hwa has five in the territory. The Altos system had transformed its operations by hooking up the front-end offices to other sections of the company, including the warehouses, while taking the drudgery out of some tasks, Mr Tang said. Chung Hwa's annual sales for last year were about $30 million. Another advantage of the Altos system, according to Mr Tang, was that it lent itself to easy upgradability to cope with the future growth of Chung Hwa's business. This, together with Altos' maintenance and after sales service, has endeared the system and the company to Chung Hwa. The Altos system's reliability has meant that Chung Hwa is now planning to introduce a management/accounting system to cope with future development, and to further improve efficiency in its accounting and other departments. FACTFILE NAME OF FIRM: Chung Hwa Book Co. TYPE OF BUSINESS: Publishing and distribution of books. NUMBER OF STAFF: About 120. HARDWARE: Altos 600 minicomputer with eight MB of RAM; a 440-MB hard disk; 150-MB tape drive; an uninterruptible power supply unit with eight terminals connected (two of which are remote). SOFTWARE: Informix database management system; Altos Book Distribution Management system.