Hong Kong Book Fair

Publishers to dish out discounts of up to 50 per cent on last day of Hong Kong Book Fair

This year’s instalment of annual event saw a record high of 680 exhibitors from 39 countries, with sellers of children’s books noting strong demand

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 July, 2018, 9:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 July, 2018, 7:33pm

The annual Hong Kong Book Fair, one of the world’s largest, this year recorded stronger sales but visitors can still enjoy discounts of up to 50 per cent on Tuesday as the event comes to a close.

Seven publishers under Sino United Publishing – controlled by Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong – said they expected a growth in sales of just under 10 per cent from 2016, according to group general manager Terence Leung Wing-chung.

Last year’s event was cut short by six hours as Tropical Storm Roke lashed the city.

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The fair will end at 5pm on Tuesday, with publishers offering discounts of up to 50 per cent to clear any remaining stock, Leung said.

He said he had seen a significant increase in young customers with a preference for romance novels.

“The reading culture, especially among young people, is improving in Hong Kong,” he said.

The seven-day event, held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, recorded a high of 680 exhibitors from 39 countries.

Last year, the book fair drew almost 1 million visitors.

In a bid to attract young customers, Commercial Press, a branch of Sino United and one of Hong Kong’s largest publishers, showcased more web fiction content this year.

Apart from young readers, the fair attracted many families with children, said Mok Yat-fung, sales manager of Commercial Press.

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“Our most eager buyers were parents who brought along their kids. So, we set up a storytelling section in the booth where staff members read children’s books to them,” Mok said.

Ko Kai-fat, sales manager of Joint Publishing under Sino United, noted that this year customers were more willing to buy not only “new books but also reprints and older books in stock”.

Creation Cabin, a small publisher, said it recorded a 30 to 40 per cent increase in sales compared with the year before.

“The setting for our booth is better this year. With more space, there is a sense of openness and this attracted more visitors,” director Yu Yi said.

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Yu said visitors were more willing to spend this year, and that books with attractive packaging and about unique Hong Kong culture sold best for his company.

However, some exhibitors witnessed a decline in sales, including Taiwan-based Megaviz Publishing Company, which has been participating in the fair for more than 10 years.

Manager Steven Chao said customers were more “cautious” this year, with most buying only one or two titles. Chao predicted a 20 per cent drop in sales compared with previous figures for the company, which specialises in books on art and design.

“The market for design books is getting smaller in Hong Kong and in Taiwan as well,” he said.

“Lots of visitors would just walk in, take a look, and then walk away.”

Unwilling to offer discounts on the last day of the book fair, Chao said he was ready to take about half of his products back to Taiwan. He added that they wanted to be fair to those who had bought products at full price, and that his company did not want to lose customers’ trust by slashing prices on the last day.