不奇怪的書展 The not so strange Hong Kong Book Fair
其中一場有參與的就是由鄧永鏘爵士搞的座談會。有四位著名英國作家 - 皇室歷史學家 David Starkey, 食評人AA Gill 和 Tom Parker Bowles,及Conde Nast International VP 作家 Nicholas Coleridge 鮮有同場雄辯說笑，實是美事一宗，也應當要讚許鄧永鏘爵士肯運用個人網絡邀請到這些名人到香港看看，跟在場觀眾交流。雖然座談會討論流於鬆散，尤如在酒吧聽到鄰座酒後吹水差不多，觀眾又大多是居港外籍人仕，唔係睇到台上的BANNER，以為自己身處於倫敦書展。如果明年討論可以多一點點香港的RELEVANCE，多一點本地華人觀眾，那就更好，我期待明年的座談會。
To complain is in the DNA of Hong Kong people, and one of the things they love to complain about is the annual Hong Kong Book Fair.
It ended over a week ago. It was packed as usual, attracting nearly 1 million visitors. I was one of them. I did everything that many visitors did: shopped for discounted books, attended a couple of seminars, and had a great time.
But people still complain, that the Book Fair is not about promoting the reading culture but just an annual opportunity to clear old stock; that the major publishers bullied the smaller ones; that the event had nothing to do with culture, etc.
If you were bothered to take a good look at the programme of the Book Fair, you will be surprised to find that hundreds of "cultural events" were in fact staged during the fair period. But most of the time, none of these could get into the column inches in newspapers and magazines, which mostly only talked about the number of visitors, number of exhibitors and which pseudo-model releasing photo albums this year has had a boob job.
And among these events, Sir David Tang's talk featuring four of his highly respected friends from the literary world - historian David Starkey, food critics AA Gill and Tom Parker Bowles, as well as Conde Nast International's VP and novelist Nicholas Coleridge - was certainly one of the highlights. These authors never made any public appearances in Hong Kong, and Sir David deserves some credits for convincing them to join the Book Fair to meet the audience. Although the discussion was a little over the place, which sounded like a conversation at a pub after downing a few pints, and most of the audience was in fact expats, such kind of events should be encouraged. If the discussion can be made more relevant to Hong Kong, and if there will be more Hong Kong Chinese joining, it will be a fabulous event, and I look forward to next year's talk.
The Book Fair is organised by the Trade Development Council - Trade Development, NOT Culture Council. So those who criticised the Book Fair for its lack of culture are firing their bullets at the wrong target. Trade Development Council is to promote trade development, and stock clearance is good for publishers to improve their cash flow and clear up space for new stock, so the Book Fair is for sure promoting the trading of books. Promoting culture is not in Trade Development Council's job description. It should be the responsibility of Culture Council or Culture Bureau. But wait, we don't have Culture Bureau in Hong Kong, and the Home Affairs Bureau, which is supposed to handle cultural development in the city, has been too busy with over spending taxpayers' money on sports events and promoting brain washing patriotic education etc.
And there's nothing wrong with shopping for discounted books. As a book lover as well as a consumer, I'd rather wait till the Book Fair to buy discounted books. Why would I want to buy a book at regular price if I can wait?
Now the only problem left is how to finish these books before next year's Book Fair.