Novel experience awaits bookworms

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 July, 2009, 12:00am

Visitors to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) Hong Kong Book Fair can expect a roomier and more aesthetically pleasing venue in which to browse.

The completion of the Atrium-Link expansion project will increase the size of the fair by a third, said Raymond Yip, assistant executive director of the HKTDC. 'It will bring a fresh new experience for Book Fair visitors,' he said.

The book fair will be staged at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai from today until next Tuesday, featuring more than 500 exhibitors from 20 countries and regions. New participating countries and regions include Brazil, Italy and the United Arab Emirates, with local companies still forming the majority of exhibitors.

The HKTDC Hong Kong Publishing Copyright Fair 2009 runs at the same venue from today until Friday. Along with the newly renovated venue, new pavilions, cultural activities and more advertisements have been introduced.

A pavilion called English Avenue has been set up to commemorate the 20th edition of the fair. Exhibitors include local and overseas bookstores, and suppliers. English Avenue would create a convenient zone for English-language readers to find English books, Mr Yip said.

Bookazine, an English Avenue exhibitor, will showcase exclusive English books and will be holding special promotions for children's books. Swindon Book, another exhibitor, hopes that the new pavilion will help it to target customers more actively. Other new zones include Religious and Spirituality and Multimedia.

More than 200 cultural activities have been arranged. They include a British Council seminar entitled 'Learning English through Sharing Books', a new book release presentation inside the International Cultural Village, in which the Royal Danish consul general has invited Katarina Stuebe to introduce her new book Jorn Utzon's Sydney Opera House, A Tribute.

The HKTDC has used roadshows to promote the fair on the mainland and in Taiwan, aiming to attract more visitors and to encourage cultural exchange.

The council is also working with 15 travel agencies in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Taiwan to include the fair as an event for guided tours of Hong Kong. Its aim is to turn the fair into a book-trade platform for the Chinese-language region as it becomes the key cultural event across the region.

Exhibitors will be showcasing a new range of books this year. The HKTDC found that literature, religious, philosophical and children's books were popular among visitors last year, yet bookstores claim there is a new trend emerging.

Chris Li, director of Swindon Book and Hong Kong Book Centre, said there would be more people looking for self-help books to upgrade their education level. Books related to history and politics, particularly about China, are also expected be a hit with visitors as there is growing interest of mainland and Hong Kong current affairs. Movie tie-in titles would be eagerly sought by youngsters as there were a lot of blockbusters this year, such as the Twilight series, Mr Li added.

Alongside the new pavilions, those continuing from last year are The General Books Pavilion, Children's Paradise, Chinese Mainland Publishers, Christian's Square, Buddhist's Square, International Cultural Village, Sino United Publishing Holdings, Stationery and Printed Products Zone, Taiwan Publishing Community, University Press Square and Teens' World.

The International Cultural Village brings international publishers and groups together in an environment of cultural exchange, featuring books from Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the UAE and Vietnam.

Even though the economy has been hard hit by the economic crises, there is a belief that the number of visitors will not drop. Ellie Luk, general manager of Bookazine, believes that people will still be willing to spend money on books despite the economic downturn. 'People are still supporting their reading habits, focusing on books on personal development, motivation and current affairs,' Ms Luk said.