Bigger turnout ensures this year's Book Fair has a happy ending

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 July, 2008, 12:00am

The seven-day Book Fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre attracted a record 829,967 visitors this year, with more people bargain-hunting on the fair's last day yesterday.

But the record could be short-lived, with the fair's organiser, the Trade Development Council, expecting an even bigger turnout next year when the Wan Chai centre's atrium expansion is completed.

TDC assistant executive director Raymond Yip Chak-yan said he believed the record attendance, compared with 760,000 last year, was due to the high number of cultural activities featuring top-notch authors and cultural figures, plus good media coverage.

'We have had more than 180 cultural activities, compared with last year's 150, and more than 34,000 people attended these activities,' he said. 'We hope to strengthen the cultural aspects of the Book Fair.'

At least 6,200 of this year's visitors were tourists, up 50 per cent on last year, Mr Yip said, with 400 travelling as part of tour groups organised by the fair.

He said the completion of the atrium expansion would increase the size of the exhibition area by 40 per cent for next year's 20th-anniversary fair.

'We haven't decided exactly what will be done yet but with more space available, we will have better and more convenient arrangements for visitors,' he said.

Mr Yip said the concessionary HK$10 morning tickets for those entering the fair before 1pm introduced last year were more successful this year, accounting for 35 per cent of visitors compared with 25 per cent last year.

He said that according to exhibitors, business had improved by 10 to 20 per cent compared with last year.

Red Publish senior editor Eric Chan Ho-cheung said overall sales had improved fourfold.

Mr Yip said the most popular books were novels, followed by pop stories, literature, religion and philosophy books, and children's books. He said it was hoped the fair would continue to become more international, with more overseas exhibitors and English-language cultural activities.

The British Council had its first official presence at the Book Fair this year. Director Ruth Gee said the response had been encouraging and it was considering a return to the fair next year.

One Book One Hope, a charity sale to raise funds for Sichuan earthquake victims organised by Sowers Action and the Hong Kong Publishing Federation, had raised HK$260,000 by Monday.

Strong growth

The Trade Development Council says exhibitors' business improved by 10 to 20 per cent

The number of people attending the Book Fair rose by: 9.2%