Hong Kong Book Fair

E-books set for sale a chapter at a time

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 June, 2011, 12:00am


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There are times where you just want one recipe from Martha Stewart and another from Jamie Oliver, or you only want to learn about the prognosis for your own Chinese zodiac sign from fung shui masters Peter So Man-fung and Mak Ling-ling.

Currently you have to buy the whole book to get one piece of information. But very soon things will change. A new breed of e-book store known as 'the future bookstore' will be unveiled at this year's Hong Kong Book Fair. It will allow readers to buy individual chapters of books and even put different chapters of books together to create their own compilation, like buying individual songs instead of a full music album on iTunes.

'People are surrounded by too many distractions these days, and their short attention span has changed their reading habits - they'd rather flip and glance than spend a long time to read the entire book,' says Terence Leung Wing-chung, general manager for business development of Sino United Publishing, which is attempting to revolutionise book shopping.

Books sold by the chapter would be in demand, he said, because publishing had been going through a digital transformation and people's reading habits had changed.

He expects that certain types of books, such as those classified as edutainment and infotainment, including recipes, astrology and horoscopes, will sell well, along with history books and even long novels.

Books will be sold by the chapter at kiosks in bookstores or downloaded from online stores to a computer or mobile phone.

Leung said the e-book store was still at the development stage and the concept would be unveiled at the Book Fair. The publishing firm, one of the largest in Hong Kong, is looking for a partner to provide the new service and has yet to set a launch date.

'We need to find out the public's reception first,' Leung said. 'We do not want to limit this platform just to our books or books in Chinese.'

Organisers expect this year's fair to attract more than 520 exhibitors from 18 countries, with digital and English exhibitors expanding 38 per cent and 50 per cent respectively. It runs from July 20-26 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre.