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Hong Kong's unique cultural icon: second floor bookstore

OHTN2017-09-27Aix XinLe

The hundreds of meters of mongkok south street, which has more than a dozen such bookstores.In turn, they were situated on the upper floors of the old building along the street, and the only sign was a large sign that was side-by-side with the cosmetics shop and the golden shop.They are one of Hong Kong's unique cultural ICONS - the second - floor bookstore.

Hong Kong's unique cultural icon: second floor bookstore

It's hard to imagine going to a bookstore without a bibliographic recommendation on the wall, which runs through the red and green streets and down the dim staircase.

Unable to pay the high store rent is forced "upstairs", advocate the humanities society book

The second floor bookstore is not limited to the second floor.Hong Kong culture editor for a newspaper, says ms lu, over the years, under the high rents and other costs, bookstore "promotion", on the second floor on the third floor, fourth floor, some even moved over the tenth floor, "said upstairs bookstore more appropriate".

How was the Hong Kong second floor bookstore produced?This is from the 1950s and 1960s, Ms. Lu said.At the time, some intellectuals in Hong Kong felt that the culture of Hong Kong was barren, and the easiest and easiest way to remedy the problem was to run a bookstore.They regard the bookstore as the medium of social enlightenment, offering books of humanities, history, social science and other types to readers, and hope to explore the humanistic space in Hong Kong through bookstores.

Of course, these books are not popular enough to make money, so the bookstore has to "go upstairs" facing the high rents of street.Ms lu, for example, in the current average Hong Kong street small location, for example, the average rent less said also want 1.2 million hk dollar, while upstairs but 8, upstairs is natural and helpless choice.Originally, the bookstore was usually located on the second floor, and the "second floor bookstore" came from it.

The pavement is not good. The location should be selected.To attract readers, the second floor bookstore is mainly distributed in the busy downtown areas of mong kok, wan chai and causeway bay.However, confined to the limited conditions, the second floor bookstore generally has a small area, 30, 40 square meters of space, full of books, narrow channels for only one person.

Although the bookstore was "forced" upstairs, it created a new world.The reader follows the old and narrow staircase into the bookstore as if it were crossing a time and space tunnel;Pushing the door into a small bookstore, the hustle and bustle of the city was shut out.The Hong Kong second floor bookstore is in this kind of quiet environment, survival, maintenance.

Over the decades, with the diversity of cultural inheritance, the function of the second floor bookstore as the social enlightenment medium has gradually declined.After years of precipitation, they have become a symbol of Hong Kong culture and one of the reading cultural phenomena of Hong Kong people.Many tourists travel to Hong Kong shopping mall "shopping", admiring will also go to see the hidden downtown bookstore on the second floor, appreciate alternative humanistic landscape in Hong Kong, Hong Kong high-rise reading fun.

Niche service is not complete, the bookstore with the characteristics of survival

Hong Kong books are very thin, the bookstore on the second floor is to survive, except "go upstairs" to save rent, how to manage to take a lot of thought.

The second floor bookstore is not located in the large chain bookstore, not to be fully prepared, but outstanding niche service has the characteristics.Characteristic management is second floor bookstore biggest characteristic, this also is its living space place.Due to the obvious characteristics of the bookstore, it is easy to attract a group of fixed customers.

Visit the bookstore on the second floor of the Hong Kong district. Every family has its own style, and some of it can be seen from the name.The tsing wen bookstore in wanchai, Hong Kong, is named after "youth literature" and the main literary book.Kubrick bookstore in yau ma tei is featured in movie books and magazines.Dawn bookstore specializes in original English books in Europe and America.The prologue to mong kok is featured in academic books.In recent years, more shangshang study, yulin hanyuan, guofengtang and other bookstores specialize in simplified Chinese books.

Because the style is different, the reader goes to the bookstore, does not have the homogenization worries, completely can according to oneself love has the purpose to choose the book.At the same time, every small bookstore with unique ideas is also an intriguing book.

Take the preamble book room as an example, this new and new second floor bookstore has become one of the ICONS of the independent bookstore in Hong Kong with its own characteristics.The preamble was founded by three Hong Kong post-80s youths in 2007 and three are graduates of the philosophy department of the Chinese university of Hong Kong.Unlike other students who have been working as workers since graduation, they have chosen a "non-mainstream" path.Run a bookstore, and it's an academic bookstore;Sell books and sell books that don't make money.

Asked about the idea of creating a bookstore, li dening, one of the founders, said that initially, they didn't start from a business perspective, but aimed at promoting academic culture."When we first came up with this idea, we already knew that making money wasn't our first priority, and the idea wouldn't change."

Preface walked into the library, therefore, you won't see investment, love or travel bestsellers, but academic as a masterpiece of rawls "justice theory", the paper study of Ike, even mu new Asia but priests and other less popular books, can be found.

The bookstore has been around for seven years, and li dening says the key to survival is to stick to your own characteristics, "sell different books, and create different bookstore styles."

But, he recalls, the pressure of rising rents, the bookstore has also experienced a lot of frustrations.For example, lack of funds, the bookstore had to choose the seventh floor of an old building;At the start of the opening, the first money was raised by friends and relatives who had not been paid for months.

Still, they persevered.By virtue of its own characteristics, in the network and media publicity, customers gradually increase.Speaking of the current business, Mr. Li said, 'business is better than opening, but not ideal.'

The highly competitive space is increasingly compressed, and the second floor bookstore faces the challenge of survival

The best wishes always face the test of reality.Although the bookstore has become a scenery in Hong Kong on the second floor, but rents in the expensive gradually marginalized, reading environment, as well as the large chain bookstores, under a tight bookstore on the second floor are constantly changing.Some are closed, some are smaller, some are relocated, some are "promoted", and others are more persistent.

In 2012, Taiwan's eslite bookstore entered Hong Kong, occupying a full three floors of the causeway bay in causeway bay.The total area of the bookstore is over 3,700 square meters and the total volume of books is as high as 1023 million volumes.

The expansion of the large bookstore has brought a lot of pressure on the second floor bookstore, and the small solitary bookstore is not as strong as the big chain bookstore.Even more so, as rents have become more expensive, there has been news of closures in Hong Kong's once popular second floor bookstore.

From the height of the hong ye bookstore, to the green wen, dawn bookstore, many of the second floor bookstore collapsed overnight.

It was loved by Hong Kong cultural people, but it didn't escape its fate.The store owner left on the site's farewell words said: "in high operating costs, low-margin actual circumstances, to maintain a bookshop in causeway bay is too luxury.Therefore, we have decided not to renew the lease..."

The second floor bookstore, which has been struggling to survive, is also struggling to stay afloat.In order to cope with rising store rents, the second floor bookstore's countermeasures are only to keep up or relocating.

As the local area became increasingly difficult to find, the shang study of simplified books in mong kok was used to remind readers of the "higher floor" on the walls of the building.Another "royal study" wrote in red ink on the directions sign: "85 percent off the eighth floor".But how many readers are willing to climb the eighth floor to buy a book, facing the "rising" bookstore?

Transformation is inevitable, diversified business or new hope

Li daning has a feeling about this.He believes that the second floor bookstore is traditionally characterized by its special advantages, but in the fierce competition environment, it also faces transformation, which requires creative and pioneering spirit of competition.

Some bookstores, he says, attract readers with discounts.For a music bookstore featuring the sale of "Taiwan book", the Taiwan version of the book has a long-term discount of 70%, the Hong Kong version is 20% off, and the purchase of hk $100, and a hk $10 book coupon.It's a small favor, but it attracts the reader.

As for the preamble, the lecture salon is becoming one of the selling points of the preface.Li said that the room was maintained, and that the in-store lecture, salon, seminar and book reading would be a success.

Preface library book in the bookstore built flow shelf, in the room by the window position, set up the platform and sofa seats, the reader can sit down and reading a book, group discussion, even for small academic lectures on culture.

"The idea came from the university's philosophy department," said li.In the preface book room, the bookstore does not charge, they will only pass the money box in the activity, let the participants "donate" voluntarily, the money collected is used to supplement the operating expenses."This is also the coming of Kant.He used to teach, not to charge tuition, but instead to put his tuition into the box and subsidize it.

Because the activity does not charge, this encourages many different groups to hold the activity in the preamble book room, condensed the group of academic culture, also assembled a batch of loyal old customers.

Today, the preamble has become an academic center of Hong Kong's humanistic society, and the culture salon of Hong Kong people.Here, you can see the back of the back of the crowded and cluttered, and also can see a lot of customers reading, buying books.The scene is silent, as if announcing that the bookstore may still be on the upper floors, but as long as the person who loves the book keeps on, the book fragrance can continue.

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