The 30th edition of the annual Hong Kong Book Fair kicked off today at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in Wan Chai, offering an oasis of solace and serenity amid the political turmoil gripping the city.
And in what appears an attempt to provide book lovers momentary relief from the harsh realities of the world, the organizer, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), has chosen to focus on an other-worldly theme, “Sci-Fi and Mystery”, for the week-long event this year.
A total of 686 exhibitors from 39 countries and regions are participating this year, the highest number ever.
Numerous publishers have tried to do their share in healing social rifts and soothing emotional wounds brought about by the raging conflict in society over the extradition bill, by displaying “soul-healing” books prominently in their stalls.
One such title, Cup of Therapy by Finnish psychotherapist Antti Ervasti, can be found at the Popular Bookstore HK booth.
Young activists, on the other hand, have other things in mind. Some netizens have suggested that the campaign against the extradition legislation be extended to the book fair by putting up a “Lennon Wall”, where people could post colorful, sticky notes related to the issue, inside the HKCEC.
There has also been a call for book lovers to swarm the stalls of mainland-based publishers and browse around with no intention of buying any of the books for sale.
Staff members of Joint Publishing HK, Chung Hwa Book Company (Hong Kong) Ltd., and The Commercial Press (Hong Kong) Ltd. are not fazed, however.
They say everyone is very much welcome to drop by their booths. “We won’t be afraid of people browsing through our books, such actions are to be expected,” says one stallkeeper.
“If some people decide to do something outrageous, we’ll just leave it to HKTDC to handle.”
Benjamin Chau Kai-Leung, HKTDC deputy executive director, said the council understands that people want to express their political views.
“These sorts of actions are acceptable as long as the public will not be put in danger,” Chau said.
Meanwhile, security measures at the venue have been reinforced, he added.
The book fair runs until Tuesday next week.
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