One million people visit Hong Kong book fair in record turnout

Record turnout for festival of literature as readers snap up bargains

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2014, 3:59am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2014, 6:19pm

Helped by improved weather, this year's week-long Book Fair saw a record high turnout of more than a million people, up from 980,000 last year.

An hour before the doors closed on the annual fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday, there were the usual bargain discounts to tempt late buyers.

A heavy downpour in Wan Chai in the evening couldn't dampen the enthusiasm of visitors, although exhibitors gave a sigh of relief after Typhoon Rammasun triggered the hoisting of signal No3 last week, but had little effect on the event.

Last year's fair had to be cut short because of a typhoon.

Organiser the Trade Development Council said a survey of 800 visitors showed average per-capita spending was HK$987, a 25 per cent increase year on year.

General fiction remained the most popular category, followed by literature, travel, comics and children's books.

Vincent Yiu Ka-fung, merchandising manager for wholesaler Confidence Services Centre, said The Fault in Our Stars, the film adaptation of which will hit the cinemas next week, sold out in days. He said sales remained similar to last year.

Watch: Crowds descend on Hong Kong's annual book fair

Major bookstores including Metrobooks, Page One and Commercial Press expected moderate growth in sales.

Metrobooks, which offered items for half-price yesterday, saw a particular interest in soccer this year due to the World Cup.

"Books about Liverpool and Arsenal sold out soon," assistant merchandising manager David Chung Chi-kit said. "There are relatively few books about the clubs in the market, and fans are willing to pay high prices."

Commercial Press book specialist Eli Lau Mei-yee said the Diploma of Secondary Education boosted sales of related books, especially for the subject of Chinese language.

Lau said that some parents paid HK$6,000 for children's book sets, and overall sales increased at least 5 per cent from last year.

Up Publications editor-in-chief Carmen Kwong Wing-suen said the organiser should do more to help small publishers.

"The major publishers already run their own bookstores. The book fair should offer more opportunities for smaller players," she said.