It’s been a gray few months for the bookselling industry with the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponing of the annual book fair, but here’s some good news — a new bookshop in town! Book Punch, founded by activist and educator Pong Yat-ming, is located at Sham Shui Po’s Tai Nan Street and soft-launched just this week on September 18.
Occupying the whole of the 3rd floor, the new shop has plenty of space for readers and positions itself as “an experiment on the possibilities of bookselling”. Pong, best known for his one-man boycott of huge conglomerates that dominate business in the city back in 2010, explains in a Facebook post: “Bookshops in Hong Kong and Taiwan are all struggling. As a latecomer to the industry, we want to see if there are other ways out.”
Book Punch will be doing things differently. There will be no discounts on books, period. Instead, there’ll be a carefully curated variety of gifts with purchases — all locally-grown produce and locally-made products. For purchases above HKD100, you can choose between half a catty (300g) of local greens, a bottle of fruit tea, or a handmade soap bar. Buy more than HKD200, and you can take with you a catty (600g) of local greens, vegan cookies, or a FORMcard. And if your bill totals HKD300 or more, you get shrimp roe noodles, homemade garlic sauce, or made-in-HK toilet paper!
“Readers may not get a discount, but we’re hoping that they’ll feel taken care of with these local products,” Pong explains.
It’s also not going to organize its bookshelves the traditional way. The internet has made it much easier for readers to find books by genres or categories, and so Book Punch wants to help readers discover books they don’t normally go looking for. Their books are displayed in sections such as “Translating Hong Kong”, “Human Diversity,” “Hello Publishers”, “Latin America is Here”, and “Pub Survival”.
The “Translating Hong Kong” section, for example, curates books by Hong Kong authors translated into foreign languages.
Book Punch plans to organize classes and workshops in the future, and aims to serve residents in the neighborhood as well as those from other districts. Everyone is strongly welcomed to hang out and read all day at this cozy space.
3/F, Tai Nam Commercial Building, 169-171 Tai Nan Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon, 12nn-9pm
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