David Tang collection to go on display in Hong Kong bookstore

Bookseller to let public view part of David Tang’s vast collection in free exhibition

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 April, 2018, 5:34pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2018, 11:15am

Part of the book collection of late entrepreneur David Tang will go on public display later this year.

Tang, the founder of fashion brand Shanghai Tang who died of liver cancer in August aged 63, left more than 1,000 titles to Surdham Lam, owner of FlowBooks.

Lam, who needed HK$200,000 of private donations to keep his store afloat last May, has promised to put a selection on display at a location yet to be announced.

The bookseller hopes the exhibition will give people some insight into a man Lam called “a serious person”.

According to him the “colourful collection” matches Tang’s personality, with books mainly from Hong Kong, the mainland, and Britain, covering a range of topics including history, biographies, inventions, arts and culture.

Lam told the Post he believes the latter two subjects may come as a surprise to people because of Tang’s well-known acerbic wit.

“After all he is a businessman, a famous socialite, it is easy to neglect other aspects of [Tang],” Lam said.

David Tang: the colourful life of the man behind Hong Kong’s fashion brand with a Shanghai twist

Through the event, which Lam wants to put on before the summer holidays, the bookshop owner said he hopes to reignite the public’s interest in reading.

“We believe [Tang’s] success originated from his ability to make good judgments, and behind the decisions – vast reading,” he said.

Since inheriting the collection, Lam revealed that he has been approached by various people interested in buying the books, but said he wanted them to be used to inspire new generations to appreciate the value in reading.

“What we cherish more, is making use of these resources to make reading more valuable,” Lam said.

Tang’s family could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.

The exhibition will be free to the public if Lam can attract sufficient sponsorship and several notable figures have agreed to pen introductions for the books that would go on display.

Lam now operates from a new premise in Sheung Wan that he shared with Lilly Wong, the owner of Lily Bookshop. The two booksellers teamed up in the 400 sq ft space after Lam was forced to leave his previous Central location in Lyndhurst Terrace.

As the new shop is only half the size of the old, Lam said the volume of his collection has to be reduced from more than 50,000 to 30,000.

Wong said she focuses on selling rare first editions and signed copies. Among her collection is an early copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, from 1897.

“I am happy to be able to pass on these well-kept books to readers that like them,” Wong said.