Over the course of the next seven days, close to a million people will probably attend the annual Hong Kong Book Fair at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai - and if so, it would be a fitting landmark for a fair which began 20 years ago and a testament to its success in cementing its place in Hong Kong's arts and culture calendar. For a city more renowned for its financial services, and its young people more fascinated with the latest technology and new gadgets, the Trade Development Council has done a superb job in attracting the general population to attend a fair primarily selling the virtues of acquiring knowledge through books. But while the visitor attendance is a major factor in determining the success of a book fair, it should not be the only standard by which a book fair is judged. Last year, a record 900,000 visitors attended the fair, but one wonders how many of them merely wanted to visit a circus of pseudo-models rather than to expand their book-reading habits. This year, the organisers have dropped the Publishing Copyright Fair, which usually coincides with the first three days. And so smaller publishing firms are accusing them of losing sight of the objectives by seemingly giving up on the industry nature of the fair, saying it is now a 'marketplace for publishers to clear their inventories'. Now that the annual book fair has become such a celebrated event, it should be expanding its ambitions, not narrowing them. One day, perhaps, it can claim to have played a part in exporting the works of local authors to the world via international publishers. The world-renowned Frankfurt Book Fair is lauded not only because of the scale of the event, but because it serves as a platform for deals between publishers, and therefore greater cultural and literary exchange. If one day, the exhibition hall is dominated by stores selling bargain books without any element of facilitating industry deals, it will be difficult to describe it as a success, no matter how many millions of people attend it.