Hong Kong Book Fair

Literature lovers camp out overnight as Hong Kong Book Fair begins

Hundreds of bookworms poured into the convention centre in Wan Chai this morning as the biggest event in the city's literary calendar kicked off

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 4:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 July, 2015, 7:43pm

Hundreds of bookworms queued up in Wan Chai on Wednesday morning for Hong Kong’s biggest annual book fair, with some having camped out overnight to be among the first to hit the booths.

The Hong Kong Book Fair, which has run for the past quarter of a century, is open from today until next Tuesday at the Convention and Exhibition Centre. There are 570 exhibitors from 31 countries and regions.

A themed exhibition focuses on Hong Kong's publishing history. Visitors can see examples of old printing and historical books or take a closer look at more recent publications from the past two decades.

They can take home copies of magazines published in the 1970s and 80s, including popular women's magazines with erotic covers but conservative romantic stories inside. They can also pose for photographs at a mock-up bookstore modelled on the first branch of The Commercial Press, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

This year the key international authors coming to town will be Susan Barker, whose new book The Incarnations was released last week; Lawrence Osborne, who recently released his second novel, Ballad of a Small Player; Barbara Demick, who is best known for the book on North Korea, Nothing to Envy; and French writers Francois Dremeaux and David Foenkinos.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor took a break from fielding criticism about her report on political reform to kick off the biggest event on the city's literary calendar.

Some of those who queued overnight were students fresh from receiving their Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exam results on Monday.

Some were rewarding themselves for their hard academic work, while others were looking to escape the fallout of disappointing results by plunging into a riveting read.

Vacilando Yip Chun-kit, 18, left his home in Sheung Shui last night and joined the queue at 4am to be among the first batch into the fair.

“I’ve come here to get some relief from the shock of failing my DSE exams,” Yip said.

Another student also from Sheung Shui, Esti Chan Cheuk-lam, will have to re-take the DSE exams next year. She said she was ready to shell out more than HK$1,000 on her favourite books.

Titles by local fiction writers such as Taiwanese author Shui Quan and Hong Kong’s Jiazi were among the most sought-after books, particularly with teenage visitors.

“I hope to buy an autographed novel from Shui Quan,” said Aurora Yan, 18. “It is very rare [for Hong Kong] to have writers from Taiwan come here offering autographs on their works.”

One of the exhibitors, Idea Publication, gave out a free set of 16 books to the first visitor reaching its booth after the fair opened.

Chief Secretary Lam said that the cultural and creative industries have potential for further development in Hong Kong, adding that the publishing sector contributed as much as HK$14 billion to the city annually and generated some 40,000 jobs.