Hong Kong Book Fair organisers will not be expanding the number of exhibition halls this year to ease crowding, but for the first time are exploring other venues around town for events like authors' talks and book signings.
The most popular consumer fair in the city, which usually occupies two floors of the Exhibition and Convention Centre in Wan Chai, attracted 9.5 million visitors last summer.
But while the Trade Development Council, which hosts the fair, could have expanded to another floor this year, it thought it would not be logistically sound.
'There are concerns over crowd control,' said Benjamin Chau, the council's deputy executive director, ahead of the event's 23rd edition on July 18 to 24. 'Exhibitors sent to the new hall might also be unhappy about the smaller number of visitors there.'
The council said yesterday that there would only be four new exhibitors next month - down from 16 last year - for a total of 530 on the roster.
Chau said they were taking a new approach this year by holding 50 book-fair-related activities in satellite venues such as schools, coffee shops, shopping centres, public libraries and universities. Harbour City alone is set to host 22 events.
However, a number of authors will still give talks at the Wan Chai venue, including British children's author Holly Webb, Taiwanese novelist Kenneth Pai Hsien-yung and Chetan Bhagat, the Indian author whose novel Five Point Someone inspired the hit film 3 Idiots.
Fair visitors can also use a machine that can generate customised book recommendations for them. The new gadget uses a camera to estimate a guest's age and gender, which help it create the book list.
Readers interested in the talks must register on the internet, while a full list of fair events is in the trade council's Cultural July pamphlet.