The Hong Kong phenomenon: book fair

The annual Hong Kong Book Fair is held in summer. This year it opens on 21 July through 27 July. It is a strange phenomenon that the annual book fair attracts 0.9M local visitors. It dwarfs even the world’s most famous industry book fair in Frankfurt which has about 0.6M visitors. You may imagine Hong Kong people like reading. They don’t. You can hardly find commuters reading a book, though they all read free newspapers, which are distributed inside and outside the MTR stations during the morning rush hours.

In fact, the city is notoriously named a “cultural desert” because there is not much cultural atmosphere here. Well, some people may not agree with that – look, there are so many cultural activities going on around the year, including the annual Hong Kong Arts Festival and Hong Kong International Film Festival. But the reality is, you can hardly survive as a professional writer in Hong Kong; and there are just a minimal number of bookstores which are usually small and which cannot afford to be located in some of the supreme shopping malls.

So Hong Kong Book Fair is a very strange phenomenon – the city is not a cultural city and yet its book fair is the world’s largest. This year the Fair has one big selling point – it has invited several renowned English writers to meet the public. They are Stephen Fry, Frederick Forsyth, Andrew Roberts, James Fenton and Anthony Horowitz, all well-known names. So if you happen to be in Hong Kong, this fair may be worth going. But do prepare for crowds and a long queue to get in.

To find out more about the fair, check out here.

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