Home

A bookstore

img_5729-1.jpeg

Got an invitation card from Eslite, confirming that the Taiwanese bookstore company will have its third shop coming in January next year.

Hong Kong used to be taken over by few bookstore chains, with a few independent those located on the second or the third level of some buildings. In the independent bookstores, new books are always sold in a cheaper price, and there are a few, but not many, books only available there.

The Taiwanese Eslite does bring some changes to reading culture in Hong Kong. It also promotes lifestyle with rich reading habits and good design products. But this lifestyle can become a "taste" in which some people love it, while some may feel they do not fit into it and are not welcome to the shops.

I am not writing here to call for Eslite or other bookstores to make themselves welcome to all people, since it's not possible. Most importantly, can Hong Kong have more kinds of bookstores?

  • Can we allow more bookstore chain after Eslite, especially those starting in our city?
  • Can independent bookstores create more values other than selling books in lower price? Can they work more with their own communities, or sell some books which can never be seen in bookstore chains, say those with independently published?

今天在誠品拿了邀請函,確認在太古城的第三間分店將在翌年一月上旬開幕。

誠品在香港已經有三年多。在這之前,由連鎖書店主導,還有一些位於二或三樓,俗稱「樓上書店」的獨立書店。這些書店除了售價比連鎖書店便宜外,也可能看到只有樓上書店才賣的書,如一連串天水圍人故事的《天水人志》。

來自台灣的誠品為香港的書店,總帶來一些變化,尤其是閱讀方面更進一步與生活結合,而且也讓人們更認真留意生活中的物件。看來很日常的物品,都可以透過設計,變得更有用和更美好。不過誠品的取向,或多或少有「品味」的傾向,成為「文青」的愛好,某程度上將某些人拒於門外。

我的疑問反而不是要把誠品或是其他書店,變得讓所有人都能與之親近。更重要的是,香港的書店種類能否更多元化?

  • 當誠品在香港發展後,香港能否容納更多連鎖書店,尤其本土起家的?
  • 樓上書店除了售價便宜這個特點外,能否有更多的理念,尤其是與附近社區(地方和居民)有更深的聯繫和合作、能否容納更多的本地獨立出版刊物?

I visited two independent bookstores during my recent Taiwan's trip. Size is not sufficient enough to compare the chain and the independent, while the latter allows more relationship with the communities nearby. The owners have strong views about reading, life, community and society. They make a bookshop as a place to communicate with residents, and residents can find it as a part of social life and understand self and world through it. Visitors can know more about the community through the bookstore, besides sightseeing and consumption.

I still did not see the similar kind of bookstores in Hong Kong. Some people said independent bookstores are not easy to sustain, but in order to survive, creating more values is a must. The social value stated above is one of the suggestions, while it can also be a kind of business opportunity. We shouldn't use "hard to survive" as an excuse to decline other possibilities. Rather, we need to seek more (new) ways to operate, and various bookstores can coexist.

從台灣回來大概一星期,這次到訪兩家獨立書店。我覺得獨立書店不只是因規模細小,就可以與大型連鎖書店就能對比,而是與社會、社區關懷所形成的獨立存在而不能被取代。獨立小書店是由小市民自發創立,創辦者對閱讀、生活、小社區甚至大社會都有自己的理念和看法,透過書店場所與當地居民交流。獨立書店除了是有風格的書店外,它理應是居民日常生活的一部分,透過閱讀和與店主和其他客人互相聊天而對身邊事物和世界有更多的認識。本身並非住在這社區的人,也可以透過獨立書店認識一個社區,而非只在區內觀光和消費。

暫時未看到香港有這類型的社區獨立書店,也許有人說樓上書店本來很難捱,但這正好不是要為非連鎖書店尋找甚至創造更多價值,來讓更多人來多次嗎?上述提到的「社區價值」,難道真的和「商業性質」完全對立了嗎?就是(比台灣)更艱難的環境,我們更要更多元化的閱讀甚至社區環境,把讀書、生活和世界連起來,形成一股改變社會的力量。

PlacesAlvin C