Hong Kong Book Fair Vendors Feeling the Pinch of Inflation

Hong Kong Book Fair Vendors Feeling the Pinch of Inflation


    Thousands of people flock to the Hong Kong Book Fair on its opening day yesterday in hopes of snapping up a few latest publications. Edmond Tang

    Book sellers at this year's Hong Kong Book Fair are expecting a smaller profit amid the soaring inflation, even though the sales volume will probably remain the same as last year.

    In hopes of making some profit within a short time, vendors at the seven-day fair which opened yesterday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, not only freeze their prices, but even offer discounts.

    Commercial Press deputy general manager Terence Leung said the business environment is tough this year because of a surge in paper and printing costs, triggered by the appreciation of renminbi.

    But the group still takes as much as 80 percent off the regular retail prices of exercise books, and 60 percent for other books in the fair.

    The group is also throwing in a free speaker for every purchase of an electronic dictionary.

    "The discounts are the most generous over the past decade," he said. "We expect a double-digit growth in sales volume, but a drop in profit because of the increasing costs."

    Chan Ping, deputy general manager of Peace Book which sells Taiwanese titles, said the cost of part-time staff for the fair has increased by 10 percent along with the 5 percent increase in paper cost.

    Chan said the cost of Taiwanese books has also increased by almost 20 percent.

    "But we cannot raise retail prices as we don't want to drive customers away," he said.

    Bessie Chui, person-in-charge of Elm Book which also sells books from Taiwan, said a 30 percent discount is the best that they can offer.

    Joey Chan, a student who visited the fair yesterday, said she is more picky with her purchase this year because of the high prices.

    "I found that some of the books are being sold at a higher price here than in some book stores in Mong Kok," she said.

    But Mathias Lee, another visitor, said he wants to buy more books at the fair to enjoy more discounts. "It seems that book prices will keep increasing. I would rather buy the books now so that I don't have to pay more in the future."

    Meanwhile, books related to the Olympics and Chinese culture have come under the spotlight this year.

    Commercial Press launched a book on the history of horse in China yesterday. Leung expected to sell 1,000 copies at the fair.

    Timothy Fok, president of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, purchased a set of 60 books showcasing a precious collection of Chinese paintings at the Palace Museum at a cost of HK,888. 

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