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February 2000

Beyond books

Readers’ new buying patterns

By Anthony Ip

Large well-established bookstores - Undertake reforms against newcomers
Corner bookstores - Growth in recent decade

In order to survive the keen competition, bookstores have to change in order to meet the demand of the readers. Therefore, by looking at the way bookstores have changed, the attitude of Hong Kong readers can also be observed.

According to Prof. Ho Kwok Leung, assistant professor in the Department of Applied Social Studies at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, local people like reading books that can be digested easily.

Said he: "Books with deep analysis and difficult ideas are hardly found in stores. Instead, stores are floored with romance novels and comics."

The demand for a spacious environment in bookstores is also explainable.

Said he: "In the past, people went to bookstores simply for buying books and nothing else.

"Now, people like to shop in large stores like The Commercial Press.

"Like the branch of The Commercial Press at Star House, there is a fine Victoria Harbor view and a comfortable environment for customers to shop around."

Prof., Ho also pointed out that reading books is no longer an attractive leisure activity for the tees as well as the university students.

"Unless new elements can be put into the business, bookstores will lose the teenage market," he said.

One example is the brand new bookstore called Stardust in Taiwan. It is a cafe where people can read books, play chess and chat to relax.

Prof. Ho said this type of bookstore has the potential to develop in Hong Kong as the pace of life is so fast and people need a place to relax.

However, Chong Hiu Yeung, a Year 2 student at the Chinese University, said he likes corner bookstores as they give him a sense of close relationship.

Said he: "bog bookstores like Page One give me a feeling of higher social status, and I don't think I could fit into that class after I spend money there."

Chong said that these days people visit bookstores not only for the books, but also for the decoration and environment of the bookstores.








peris04.jpg (24046 bytes)

Reading environments are as important as the books. (Tom Ho)




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Department of Applied Social Studies
Hong Kong Polytechnic University

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