Models told not to 'cause chaos' at fair

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 July, 2010, 12:00am

With their autograph sessions banned from Hong Kong's annual Book Fair on grounds of bad taste, the skimpily-clad young women known as pseudo-models have found a new base for book-signing - Golden Bauhinia Square.

Fans who buy their revealing picture books at the fair this year in the Convention and Exhibition Centre will have to carry them a few metres to the square to have them signed.

But those inside the fair will not be denied a view of the models, who are allowed to visit as long as they do not, in the words of Trade Development Council deputy executive director Benjamin Chau Kai-leung, 'cause chaos'.

The council banned the models' indoor autograph signing sessions this year because they had adopted 'bad taste' promotion strategies.

Red Publish, the publisher behind five photo books including one featuring popular model Chrissie Chau Sau-na, said she and other associated models would not go inside the fair.

But others have said they will make random appearances.

Buyers of the company's books who want an autograph will be given a token to take with the book to the signing stall.

Gary Leung Kwan-ho, speaking on behalf of Red Publish, said he had little idea what the pseudo-models might do at the fair.

'If an official autograph signing session were allowed, there would be no chaos. Now I can't imagine what they will do,' he said.

An approaching tropical storm added uncertainty to preparations for the event, which attracted 900,000 visitors last year.

The council expects business to beat last year's as the fair has been enlarged 8 per cent to house 510 exhibitors, but vendors remain cautious.

The venue would be closed two hours after a typhoon signal No 8 were hoisted, Benjamin Chau said. Unless the signal was to be downgraded before 4.30pm today or tomorrow, the fair would be called off for the remainder of the day.

Weather permitting, manager of Cosmo Books Chan Chee-chuen was hopeful that business would grow by 10 per cent on last year. But he feared a tropical storm would wipe out a whole day's business - more than HK$100,000.

The fair's English Avenue for the sale of English books has doubled in size and retailer Page One has secured a bigger booth.

Senior marketing executive Keith Wong Yiu-wing said the store would offer 10 per cent more books than last year and he looked forward to business growth of the same proportion. But a storm could send hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain, he said.

E-book reader maker Hanvon Technology was confident that it would sell 1,000 of the gadgets during the fair as a digital publishing and e-books session makes its debut at the event today.

The company started selling the readers in Hong Kong this year but it sold 1.5 million globally last year, marketing manager Terry Lai Ho-fai said. Fifty thousand digital books are available on its mainland e-book store and are compatible with the reader - but their downloads must be paid for. A black-and-white reader is priced from HK$2,980.

The fair opens at 9am today and will run until next Tuesday.