Books snapped up at museum sale

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 May, 2006, 12:00am

About 7,200 old museum publications, some of which had gathered dust after being left unsold since being published 16 years ago, were snapped up during a two-day carnival aimed at arousing young people's interest in visiting museums.

The clearance sale, in which books on the arts, history and science were sold at a 25 per cent discount, helped the Leisure and Cultural Services Department recover about $250,000 in revenue.

The sale, a highlight of International Museum Day 2006 held on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront over the weekend, was prompted after a value-for-money report released last month by the Audit Commission.

The report found around 210,000 museum publications in six museums, with a total selling price of $24.7 million, had been left unsold from last November, with 67 per cent of them gathering dust for at least five years.

The Hong Kong Museum of Art had to use two cargo containers to store some of its unsold publications.

Among those on sale were Rice Farming in Hongkong, published in 1990, and a children's book on stars, published in the same year.

Yesterday 20,000 visitors attended the sale and 5,000 old publications and other museum souvenirs were snapped up.

Many of the visitors said they were there for the cheap books, while serious museum- goers said the carnival was too much like a book fair.

Primary Five pupil Candy Yeung, 10, of Tsuen Wan, said she had never visited a museum before. 'I do not know much about museums. They sound too boring. I came for the cheap books,' said Candy, who bought a picture book about the solar system for $11.50.

Her father, Yeung Kai-ming, 48, who bought a book on Cantonese opera, said: 'If the government wants to promote museums, they should not charge admission fees.'

Another visitor, office worker Mak Tat-shing, said: 'I don't think those who are serious about museums and books would buy old books in a funfair-like event here. They should have already bought those books.'

Mr Mak did not agree with the Audit Commission that unsold museum publications could pose a serious problem. 'After all, most are history books. And history is about old things. They can simply put it on the shelf and at the end of the day the books will all be sold.'