Hong Kong Book Fair

Crowds flock to the fair ... just for a good read

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 July, 2006, 12:00am

Bookworms descended on the Hong Kong Book Fair in droves late on Saturday night to take advantage of extended opening hours and free admission.

While long queues were spotted outside the fair venue at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, it was packed inside and resembled the Lunar New Year market at Victoria Park.

Personal assistant Jinner Li, 25, said the free entry after 9.30pm on Saturday had no influence on her decision to come.

'I came simply because I happened to be free,' she said.

Ms Li, who came with her boyfriend, hoped organisers would extend the opening hours on more days at next year's fair so that she would not have to wait to get in.

'We were at Wan Chai MTR station around 10pm but it took us until 10.45pm to get in here ... we feel we have to make lots of detours and given the hot weather, it is not a pleasant experience.'

Oscar Wong, 33, a medical worker, said the crowd made it a tiring affair to search for good titles.

'I never thought it would be so congested at this time of the day. In the past years, I would come during the day. A packed crowd during the day is more or less anticipated but I never thought the night fair would have so many people.

'I could not find the books I aimed to find as there were simply too many people and at the same time I didn't have many expectations coming to the book fair because the books are arranged in such an unorderly manner and no one can help you.'

Fredo Arias, who had just arrived from a business trip on the mainland, said he was amazed by the atmosphere.

'In other countries you need something else to stimulate people to go and look at books. You need to put on a show or food or some stupid things, but here people simply come for the books. It just shows Hong Kong is the most civilised place on Earth,' he said.

The fair stayed open until 2am, the latest yet, but by 11.15pm, organisers had to announce that no more people should come because it was already packed.