Publishers look beyond paper to entice readers

On sale are language books with embedded TV and waterproof children's stories for the bathtub

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 July, 2014, 4:23am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 July, 2014, 7:41am

Publishers have realised that the printed word is no longer enough to sell their wares, if some offerings at this year's Hong Kong Book Fair are anything to go by.

Among thousands of items on sale at the fair, which opened yesterday, are language books with embedded television content and a general knowledge classic with add-on 3D videos.

Another leading publisher is aiming to catch readers young, with waterproof books aimed at children under two.

Hundreds queued overnight to be first into the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai when the fair opened at 10am. They included students who received their Diploma of Secondary Education examination results on Monday, with some saying they were rewarding themselves for their hard academic work, while others wanted to salve their disappointment.

"I've come here to get some relief from the shock of failing my DSE exams," said Vacilando Yip Chun-kit, 18, who joined the queue at 4am.

Local fiction books remained the most sought-after products while the longest queues, as usual, were for fashion magazines with free cosmetics.

The Hong Kong Educational Publishing Co has rejuvenated the general knowledge classic 100,000 Why Questions using augmented reality technology with images in 3D on a website dedicated to the 36-volume series. And Cambridge University Press launched a new English textbook series in collaboration with National Geographic that comes with an e-book version and footage from the channel.

Oxford University Press is offering a language-learning series aimed at toddlers which includes waterproof story books suitable for use in a bathtub, toys in different textures and songs. But many parents were more interested in buying books of exercises for the DSE exams.

Among them was a mother of two primary school children, who said: "You can always borrow fiction books at the library, and studying is more important. My child will take exams soon - I'm quite nervous."

She planned to spend "a few thousand dollars" at the fair.

"This year's Chinese exam was apparently quite hard, so I expect more students will be interested in buying [Chinese exercise] books," Educational Publishing assistant manager Dickson Wong Sze-lai said.

Readers aside, the fair also drew protesters against Israel's participation. Friends of Palestine HK - the group behind a rally in support of under-attack Gaza on Sunday - will demonstrate in front of Israel's booth all week.

The fair will run until next Tuesday.