Coronary spaghetti
Saving the environment, driving you crazy

Closed book

Sun Gai Gweilo was complaining recently about the price (and availability) of English language books in Hong Kong.  And, yes, I am sure I will be criticized for writing this, but English is an official language of Hong Kong, so you might hope that books would be readily available at a reasonable price.  And they're not.

In Hong Kong, it's standard practice for bookshops to convert US Dollar prices to HK Dollars 10:1 (rather than than the actual exchange rate of 7.8), and a similar mark-up applies to British prices - though the fluctuating exchange rate makes this more difficult to track. 

The thing is that even if they used a fair exchange rate, you'd still be paying more (for most titles) than anyone would actually pay in the UK - discounts of 30-40% are widely available in the UK, particularly on new titles and from online booksellers. 

The answer ought to be online, but once again we seem to be poorly served in Hong Kong.  You can order from Amazon, but delivery charges are quite steep.  However, their service is excellent, and books arrive a few days after ordering.  Paddyfield only charge a modest amount for delivery, and use the real exchange rate, but delivery on many titles takes up to 4 weeks, and they don't offer the range of titles or the discounts that you can get from Amazon.

The explanation is simple enough - lack of demand and lack of competition.  If you go to other major cities in Asia, such as KL, Bangkok and Singapore, you will find a better choice of English books at more competitive prices than in Hong Kong.


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Lack of demand indeed, and you only need to look at the queues for the Comic and Games Fairs at the CEC to see why: many kids simply don't read these days, whether in English or Chinese, nor adults, other than expats, come to that.


I always thought it was to offset the massive rent for store space. I hate to think what PageOne pays at Festival Walk.

Still, I agree the books are way overpriced.


The cost of English books sold in HK probably covers shipment, the rent of the store, the markup foreign currency exchange rate, plus profit. It's better if you wait till there is a sale, or you go online to get the books. Of course, if there is competition and a big demand, the booksellers would consider lowering their prices. Yet, the majority of the population in HK prefer Chinese books.


Paddyfield is okay with their service, and their prices are better than the other stores.

Dymocks is quite poor. They used to have chairs in their stores for browsers to sit down and peruse their books, but took them away and (as I discovered in one store) verbally encourage people who have been browsing a bit too long for their liking to leave.

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