The penny travel books

July 26, 2023 09:55
Photo: RTHK

Are you going to Hong Kong Book Fair? Not for me this time because I am not in the city. But I was told sales was challenging because the book fair is notorious for its clearance outlet sales. It is not easy to make money in the business anyway.

Reading books used to be people’s favourite pastime. I have no doubt that many Hong Kong people still like to read books. Reading is after all a good habit to have, and it makes you a lot of friends – dead or alive.

But of course nowadays unless you do not play computer games, or you do not have Netflix or Spotify accounts, you probably would not want to spend your evening on books.

To make it worse, blame it on the small living space, a natural killer for book lovers. How many people can afford to own hundreds of books?

I am speaking from a person who threw away four boxes of books last month in the most painful home moving experience I ever had.

But I feel even more perplexed after reading the headline news about this year’s book fair.

In what is billed as the first book fair after three years of pandemic, I came to realize that some book lovers can buy their favourite travel books at HK$5 apiece.

Yes, HK$10 for two, although most are selling between HK$10 and HK$20. Mind you, these books are first-hand decent-printed with lots of pictures.

Oh boy, are things really that bad? I figure I can buy half a dozen travel books by skipping a Café de Coral breakfast.

Right, some of these travel books are outdated. But the world’s famous travel cities hardly change much in the last three years, I presume.

Many people went away this summer after a long absence, as they pay super-high airfare for long-haul travel.

So it is easy to conclude that people like to travel but are not buying travel books.

For the record, nearly a million people went to the book fair, up 30 per cent than last year, according to the organiser Trade Development Council. Average spending per visitor under survey was about HK$872.

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EJ Insight writer