Booksellers slash prices as fair winds down

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 July, 2009, 12:00am

Booksellers yesterday offered deeper discounts in a last attempt to boost sales and clear stock before the week-long Book Fair ends tonight.

Many exhibitors offered additional savings to customers if they bought more books.

Swindon Book Co, which was already touting 30 per cent discounts, was cutting prices a further 5 per cent if shoppers bought four titles. Elmbook gave a 37 per cent discount for buying five books.

Publishers Marketing, an English bookseller, was offering Slumdog Millionaire at half-price (HK$38), down from the 30 per cent discount it was offering earlier. The booth's bestseller, Twilight, was selling for HK$50, about half-price.

Pak Nga Publication's exercise books for primary students went from HK$40 to HK$10, with a free title thrown in for every 10 that patrons bought. A spokesman said the company was offering the discount to reduce costs when it moved stock later.

Wan Li Book Co said it would add to its HK$10 offerings.

Taiwanese exhibitors, who had been complaining about a poor location at the fair, generally said there would not be a large-scale sale on the fair's last day.

Tuan Thih-chiang, of United Distribution in Taiwan, said business was down two-thirds over last year. Some Taiwanese sellers said they were trying to sell books to local publishers to reduce the amount of stock they had to take home.

Meanwhile, Subculture Press chief Jimmy Pang Chi-ming threatened to stage a protest after he received a warning letter yesterday from the Trade Development Council, which organises the fair. The letter accused him of violating a regulation that banned autograph sessions inside the main exhibition area. It said the publisher had broken rules by canvassing and causing disorder in the exhibition hall.

Mr Pang said that the accusations in the letter - his first in 19 years at the fair - were unwarranted. He said he was only asked for autographs by a random reader and he was at the fair hoping to do business.

'If a reader comes around, do I have to bring him to the autograph area on the fourth floor? It's not logical,' Mr Pang said.

At least four other authors, including Lau Tin-chi, expressed support for Mr Pang and criticised the council of being unreasonable.

The council said that autograph sessions inside the exhibition area have been banned since 2002, and nine warning letters were issued this year, with one each to Subculture Press and Mguru. The council said neighbouring exhibitors have been complaining that promotional events by Subculture Press and Mguru have disrupted their business.