A strong showing at the 32nd HKTDC Hong Kong Book Fair in July has cheered organisers, who now expect good attendances and robust business at its string of summer shows, led by the ever-popular Food Expo.
Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the Book Fair ran in conjunction with the fifth HKTDC Hong Kong Sports and Leisure Expo and second HKTDC World of Snacks, bringing together more than 700 exhibitors offering a diverse experience for shoppers that included books, sports and leisure products, and snacks. The three events drew 850,000 visitors in total, with average per capita spending of HK$879.
Following these three exhibitions, the HKTDC is organising a series of events in the summer, including the Food Expo, Beauty & Wellness Expo and Home Delights Expo (all 11 to 15 August), and the Hong Kong International Tea Fair (11 to 13 August). These events will cater to the varying needs of the public while helping businesses expand their local retail market and provide a boost to Hong Kong’s economy at the same time.
The Book Fair was one of the events celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Sophia Chong, Deputy Executive Director of the HKTDC, said: “We are very grateful to all our exhibitors and visitors for their support for the Book Fair, the Sports and Leisure Expo and World of Snacks. Some visitors even brought their whole family along! Under the theme of the year, ‘History and City Literature’, visitors showed great interest in related books, particularly cultural topics such as the history of the Forbidden City. Visitors also participated in various cultural events, seminars and recreational experiences. The HKTDC will continue to work with our Cultural Events Advisory Panel to bring even more diversity to the Book Fair in order to promote reading and cultural exchange more comprehensively.”
Book Fair exhibitors echoed Ms Chong’s comments saying that books related to this year’s theme were among the best-selling genres at the event, including volumes on topics such as the history of the Forbidden City that gave readers a better understanding of China’s past. Books related to health and self-improvement and children’s books were also popular and drew good business.
A research institute commissioned by the HKTDC interviewed more than 800 fair visitors to gain an insight into their spending and reading habits. Average spending at this year’s fair was HK$879 (US$112) – recording an increase from the HK$817 last year and accounting for 71% of respondents’ average annual expenditure on printed books (HK$1,238). This shows the Book Fair remains an important platform for local people to access quality reading materials. Most respondents (82%) attended the Book Fair to seek out new releases while 41% came for book discounts, 17% visited for the diverse cultural activities and 15% intended to buy children’s books.
The survey also revealed the reading habits and preferences of attendees, with 95% of respondents saying they had read printed books in the past month with an average reading time of 19 hours. The most popular genres were fiction (57%), literature (25%), comics (21%), travel (18%) and children’s books (17%). Other popular genres were language books, supplementary exercises, self-improvement, history and biographies. The survey found that more than 65% of respondents had read e-books in the past month, also spending an average of 19 hours reading.
Reflecting the influence of the pandemic, 57% of respondents settled payment using non-cash methods, including Octopus cards and credit cards, showing a rise from 49% last year. Visitors also rated the crowd-control measures at the fairs positively, with 89% saying they were satisfied with the crowd control measures, and 90% expressing satisfaction with the new Octopus payment admission arrangements.
This year, the HKTDC organised more than 600 seminars and cultural activities, including the theme of the year “Reading the World: Stories of Hong Kong” seminar series, “History and City Literature”, “Renowned Writers”, “English and International Reading”, “World of Knowledge”, “Children and Youth Reading”, “Lifestyle”, “Hong Kong Cultural and Historical”, and “Personal Development and Spiritual Growth”. Together with the "Cultural July – Summer of Reading" campaign held in various districts since late June, the estimated number of participants for the various activities exceeded 320,000. Some of the seminars in the "Renowned Writers” seminar series were broadcast online in collaboration with Sina Weibo, allowing booklovers outside Hong Kong to participate virtually.
Recordings of selected seminars are available online. Readers can revisit them through the Book Fair website or via the HKTDC’s online video channels. The Cultural July citywide campaign continued until the end of last month with a broad range of activities including art and cultural tours, exhibitions and seminars.
Sports and snacks
Offering a broad selection of sports and leisure products and services along with more than 1,200 tasty treats and snack workshops, the Hong Kong Sports and Leisure Expo and World of Snacks ran in parallel with the Book Fair. The former featured various trials and interactive experiences while the latter offered visitors a chance to buy treats from around the world and make their own snacks. Both events saw keen participation and exhibitors reported excellent sales.