When it comes to books, Hong Kong people have practical tastes. The Hong Kong Street Map topped the sales of Chinese books at two bookstore chains last year, for the second consecutive year. A practical bent was also in evidence in sales of mainland books, with the Xinhua Dictionary and Putonghua Level Assessment Practical Summary scooping the first two positions at 21 Joint Publishing and Chung Hwa stores. It also came through loud and clear, although touched with a political hue, in sales of Chinese-language books on Hong Kong and the mainland. The Basic Law of the HKSAR of the People's Republic of China and Deng Xiaoping Commenting on Hong Kong Problems sold best in this category. Readers allowed themselves a flight of fancy in the English books category, however, with Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven grabbing the top two positions overall. Translations of Brown's intellectual blockbuster and its spin-offs also scored well in the Chinese-language category, with the novel taking second place. Au Kang-lam, director and deputy general manager at Joint Publishing for Hong Kong, said the popularity of the 2004 Hong Kong Street Map was traditional and that local people preferred books relevant to their daily life. He said the success of The Da Vinci Code in Chinese probably resulted from interest whipped up by the media, as was the case with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which took the same slot the previous year. In fiction sales, readers reverted to type, with 75 per cent of sales being romance fiction. 'We know that Hong Kong people's like for literature is confined mostly to local love fiction,' Mr Au said. Tastes are unlikely to improve, if demand for children's books is any indication. While children's book sales showed the strongest growth of 35 per cent, literature in this category slumped 19 per cent.