The seven-day Hong Kong Book Fair drew more than 850,000 people, an increase of 20,000 from last year, but business fell by around 50%, forcing many exhibitors to begin final sales before the fair closes at 5 p.m. yesterday.
Some vendors said this year’s fair saw more visitors but a cooler reception than in the past.
The bookworms made a last dash to put books in their luggage and carts before the curtains closed for the week-long fair.
More than 850,000 people visited the fair, said a spokesperson for the fair’s organizer, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, compared to 830,000 visitors last year.
Among the crowd was a mother, Chan, who came to the fair right after her son received his high school place assignment result.
“I’ll buy all the books he likes,” Chan said, adding that she hadn’t set a budget.
Others said they wouldn’t overspend this time around.
“I might only spend a few hundred dollars since I mostly read e-books instead of holding hard copy,” said one visitor, Mok.
A vendor attending the fair for the 13th year thought there were more visitors this year than last but had low hopes for sales, saying the bookstore this year was not as successful as before the past.
The seller launched in-store promotions a few days before the end of the fair.
Some publishers launched last-minute deals, including deals such as seven elementary workbooks for HK$100, while some Hong Kong High School Diploma Exam review books were sold for HK$20. HK$ – at the original price of HK$38.
Despite the general decline in sales, one publisher selling supplemental notebooks said sales were up 10-20% from last year.
“Many schools are still teaching online, and parents are worried about their children’s studies, so they would buy more workbooks,” said a staff member at the publisher’s booth.
Amid the gloom of the ongoing pandemic, many have turned to fortune-telling books for solace and hope.
“Fortune telling books and tarot cards sold quite well,” said one seller, Wong, “because many people feel lost and hope to use tarot cards to make their future divine.”
The Wisely series by the late author Ni Kuang made it to the best-selling charts at this year’s book fair, with some even sold out.
However, some booksellers have complained about the remoteness of their kiosks.
One vendor, Tang, said sales were only half of last year, adding that they had planned to pack up and leave before noon – well before the official closing time of the fair.
“Normally we can refund after the fair, but the situation this year is worse than expected,” Tang said.
Tang said people are still avoiding public places and crowds amid the pandemic, while students have yet to start their summer vacations.