Save our English bookstores!

By Nicholas Wong, South Island School
By Nicholas Wong, South Island School |

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The now defunct Dymocks in IFC during better days

Hong Kong is often called a shopping and culinary paradise, but it's getting very hard to find books. Specifically, English ones.

In February, Page One's flagship store in Times Square closed down unexpectedly. Then, Dymocks closed its store in IFC. And not long ago, the Hong Kong Book Centre in Taikoo Shing disappeared.

In the remaining bookstores, the English sections have been getting much smaller.

Some say this is because the standard of English in Hong Kong is slowly getting worse. Others say it's that people are using their phones instead of reading, or just prefer to read Chinese books.

Cantonese has been the local language for centuries, but a knowledge of English, in speaking, reading and writing, is vital when visiting other countries. Yet, by the looks of it, Hong Kong may soon lose all its bookshops if something isn't done.

This will also have a bad impact on foreign tourism. What would people say if they went into a bookstore and found only Chinese books? Something must be done, before we get listed as the first major city that doesn't have a single English-language bookshop.

Nicholas Wong, South Island School

From the editor

Thanks for your letter, Nicholas. It's true that English bookstores are disappearing from Hong Kong, but the truth is, this is happening around the world. Many bookstores in many countries now sell stationery and home decorations just to make ends meet, because not enough people are coming in to buy books.

Hong Kong also has very few second-hand bookstores, which would allow people to get their English books at a considerable discount.

Fortunately, the local library system still has a huge supply of English books, magazines, and graphic novels. Best of all, it's absolutely free. Better stop by soon, so they know you're still interested.

Sam, Sub-editor