I had to hop over the border yesterday to visit a factory in Shenzhen. Before I went back to Hong Kong, I stopped at “Windows of the World” metro. Around eight years ago I lived next to the metro stop and I recall there’s a large shopping mall.
So I stopped by, met a friend for a coffee and browsed around. And I saw something which you hardly find in Hong Kong – a bookshop!
Unfortunately Hong Kong isn’t a very cultural or intellectual place. Yes, there are museums (and some bookshops), but for a city of seven million that claims to be “Asia’s World City” the number of book shops and museums is minuscule.
Why is that? It’s a mix of the world’s highest property prices that make running any business that relies on space difficult (expensive brands are in a clear advantage) and a population that prefers online games to books.
The first statement is a fact, the second “statement” is my personal, completely biased opinion. When I take the metro in the morning I see loads of people sleeping or staring at their mobile screen playing online games. I don’t see a lot of people reading.
So I was pleased browsing through the bookshop in Shenzhen. The stationary section included a section where you can create your own Chinese chop. Unfortunately the characters of my name weren’t available.
What was really truly amazing is a corner where people sat and – read a book. That you won’t find in Hong Kong. Space is much too precious to use for displaying goods.
I’ll definitely come back….
It’s similar in Singapore. Bookshops are few and rare, but I have never seen anyone sit inside and read. Well, maybe some Japanese kids in the manga section (Kinokuniya is a big player here).
It’s a bit sad I always thought, but on a recent trip back home I noticed that all these small bookshops are mostly gone.