No one can deny that reading is important. Reading enriches our world, expands our vocabulary, stimulates the imagination and can increase the attention span in children who might otherwise be distracted by electronic games, TV, and the Internet.
At a glance it might seem that the reading culture here is non-existent and that people would rather disengage into a game on their mobile rather than literature. But if you dig deeper you will discover that Hong Kong’s inclination for books and reading is far from dead; it’s actually emerging, and this city has a lot to offer in terms of the quantity and selection when it comes to its bookstores, mainstream and speciality. If you wonder where to buy or borrow books, this is the ultimate guide to unleashing your inner literati.
These bookshops sell books that have been previously owned by other bookworms and that’s a perfect way to find gems you won’t find in other regular stores.
Where the true bibliophile hangs out. Browse for hours and revel in that tell-tale used book smell, trawling through the piles and shelves of dog-eared copies (the place has a feel of a jumble sale at times). The shop is very chill, inviting you to relax with a tea or coffee in cosy surrounds.
Address: 10 Park Road, Mid Levels
Contact: +852 2559 5199
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 11.00am – 7.00pm
My Bookroom has three locations: two in Prince Edward and one in Cheung Sha Wan. The flagship on 79 Lai Chi Kok Road is two levels packed from floor to ceiling of pre-loved Chinese and English books with genres ranging from novels, philosophy, economics, to manga and children’s storybooks.
Address: G/F, 79 Lai Chi Kok Road, Prince Edward; G/F, 208 Lai Chi Kok Road, Prince Edward; 44 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Tong Mi
Contact: +852 6121 8222
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 1.00pm – 9:00pm
Books aren’t just for reading! They’re also great gifts for friends and family, and these all-purpose bookshops will be perfect to find literatures and books on various topics, in English or in Chinese.
Affiliated with Swindon Book Co and Kelly & Walsh, Hong Kong Book Centre is in good company in the local book scene. It offers a diverse selection of special interest books, covering art, design, business and travel. You can also find the latest best sellers here, and the little ones will enjoy the kids’ section.
Address: 25 Des Voeux Road, On Lok Yuen Building Lower Level, Central
Contact: +852 2522 7064
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 9.00am – 6.30pm; Saturday 9.00am – 1.00pm; closed on Sunday and public holidays
A very dependable selection of English language books, magazines, stationary and gifts. In their biggest store they stock over 900 magazine titles and over 20,000 book titles. All shops have a children’s section and in some they will host book readings, puppet shows, face paintings, competitions and other events for children of all ages.
Address: Multiple locations including Landmark Prince’s, Discovery Bay, IFC Mall, Lyndhurst Terrace, Times Square, Festival Walk, Repulse Bay
Founded in 1989, ESLITE is a bookstore chain that hails from Taiwan. Originally their focus was on art and humanities but the company has since expanded their selection. The shop in Causeway Bay opened in 2012 and has 3 floors chock full of good reads. ESLITE also has a children’s book section, in both English and Chinese titles.
Address: 8/F-10/F Hysan Place, 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay
Contact: +852 3419 6789
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am – 10.00pm
Previously Dymocks in Sai Kung, Kidnapped takes its name from the timeless adventure classic by Robert Louis Stevenson. Store owner Urusla Huber, is passionate about sharing books as a way to captivate the imagination and take readers on an adventure and spirit of discovery. The store offers a wide range of children’s books including those by local Hong Kong authors.
Address: 7 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung, New Territories
Contact: +852 2791 9110
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 9.00am – 7.00pm
These booksellers offer a variety of books that are appropriate for kids and toddlers of various ages. Additionally, you might find clothing and accessories from their favourite anime characters.
With stacks of discount books at two locations, not to mention a space large enough for the kids to wander, this shop is a favourite with local parents. Mum and dad are spoilt for choice with affordable English language books for babies, kids and teens, along with creative games to keep their imagination ticking.
Address: Kwun Tong and Causeway Bay
Opening Hours (same for both locations): Monday-Friday 11.00am – 7.00pm; Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 11.00am – 6.30pm
This whimsical shop, with three locations in Hong Kong, has something to delight princes and princesses of all ages, from infant storybooks right up through reference materials and novels suitable for teens.
Address: Multiple locations including Lee Gardens Two, Ocean Terminal Harbour City and Yoho Mall 1
Book Buddy goes above and beyond with a fun range of storybooks, Novelties, Pillow Storybooks, Workbooks, Flash Cards, Educational Games & Materials, Puzzles, Infant Toys, Stickers and stationery.
Address: Windsor House and PopCorn
If you wonder where to buy books that would be about design, photography, film, architecture or fashion, you will certainly find what you’re looking for in these stores.
Most likely named after Stanley Kubrick . When it comes to film and music Kubrick takes the crown; a visit to this shop will inspire you to get matinee tickets for the next art house movie. Although mainly Chinese, there is a good selection of English language books, graphic novels and magazines. Their support for the arts can be seen first hand as they sell art, design and handcrafted accessories from local and foreign artists. You can linger at their nice café which has an all day menu at affordable prices.
Address: Shop H2, Prosperous Garden, 3 Public Square St., Yau Ma Tei
Contact: +852 2384 8929
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 11.30am – 10.00pm
Formed in 1876 through the partnership of two local Shanghai booksellers and then established itself as a local retailer in Hong Kong in the 1950s. [pendant alert!] This bookstore offers a well rounded selection of topics but mainly focuses on art, architecture, design and fashion. It also is keen on satisfying speciality interests by stocking a comprehensive and professional selection of cookbooks, books on automobiles, philosophy, travel as well as a fun children’s section.
Address: Shop 204, Level 2, Pacific Place, Admiralty
Contact: +852 2522 5744
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 11.00am – 7:00pm
Other more specific bookshops exist in Hong Kong and these places will be your best bets if you’re looking for some special types of literature.
One of the more handsome stores on the list, with plush chairs to lounge in as you savour the wide range of rare books, first editions and important folios. A great place to hunt down the perfect gift for those hard-to-buy people in your life, as they also have signed books on hand. The inviting setting doubles as a party destination, where you can attend private cocktail gatherings, whisky or wine tastings and author readings.
Address: Ground Floor, 6 Chancery Lane, Central
Contact: +852 2868 1056
Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11.00am – 7.00pm; (closed Monday, Sunday and public holidays)
Most of the books here are in Chinese and academic-themed, however, it’s a great place to learn more about local culture as they often hold talks and community events in English. The bookstore was opened by an aspiring group of young people who wanted to provide a space for discussion, increase social and cultural consciousness, and promote reading. Drop in, meet some interesting people, and walk away with a rich read too.
Address: 7/F, 68 Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Mong Kok, Kowloon
Contact: +852 2395 0031
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 12.00pm-10.00pm
It’s business as usual (pun intended) at this store which has a mammoth selection of books on law, business, human resources, finance and other professional titles. To switch gears it offers a brilliant selection of children’s books and other literary titles.
Address: 1/F, Chung Sheung Building, 9-10 Queen Victoria Street, Central
Contact: +852 2526 5387
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 9.00am – 7.00pm; Saturday 9.00am – 6.00pm (closed Sunday and public holidays)
Tai Yip has a terrific selection of books about Chinese history, symbolism and art including titles about archeology, lacquer ware, jade, snuff bottles, ceramics, costumes, tea ware, etc. This is a good place to look if you are planning to collect Chinese art or antiques.
Address: Room 1, 3/F Conwell House, 34-38 Stanley Street, Central
Contact: +852 2524 5963
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 11.30am-7.00pm
This store is dedicated to promoting French language and culture. It opened it doors in 1987 and since has remained the only French bookstore in Hong Kong. In addition to books the store sells comics, textbooks, dictionaries, travel guides, stationery and DVDs.
Address: 2/F, Duke of Wellington House, 14-24 Wellington Street, Central
Contact: +852 2526 9215
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 10.00am – 6.30pm; Saturday 9.30am – 5.30pm; (closed Sunday and public holidays)
Online book shopping
If you prefer to purchase your books online, the following companies offer a wide rang of books for your to choose from.
One of the oldest booksellers on the block, Swindon Book Co has been helping Hong Kongers happily flip through the pages since 1918. Having closed its Lock Road store in 2020, it has now become an online book store.
Contact: +852 2366 8001
Lovers of art with a Hong Kong touch will revel in the selection at Asia One Books, which publishes and distributes books on the city’s developing art scene. Chic accessories and cute gifts for children are also available. Deliveries to Hong Kong addresses are free if you spend over HK$400.
The UK’s largest dedicated online bookseller, the Book Depository site offers free worldwide delivery on an enormous range of titles. There is an option to shop (and pay!) in a variety of currencies including Sterling, Euros, and US or Australian Dollars, so no tricky price conversion is required.
A one-stop shop for competitively priced books, movies, toys, music, and more. Shipping is free; most orders arrive within 6-10 days. Requires (free) registration to browse the site.
Owned and operated by a British expat, this family-run online bookstore offers an affordable option for children’s books, toys and other products. The books and play things sold at Bookwise are carefully hand-chosen by owner Sara Young and only include things she would choose for her own children. As an added bonus, everything can be delivered to your residence at no extra cost excluding a few large items.
Libraries in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has a large network of libraries available in most of the districts. Books, magazines, newspapers, computers and printers, books for children and students, you can find pretty much everything there.
The Central Library (located in Causeway Bay) is a public library with English sections of books available on loan for adults and kids. English ebooks and audio books are also available. This branch of the library is also home to the Toy Library, an indoor play space for children aged 0 – 8.
Address: 66 Causeway Road, Causeway Bay
Contact: +852 2921 0208
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 10.00am – 9.00pm (*opens at 1.00pm on Wednesday); Public holidays 10.00am – 7.00pm
In addition to the Central Library, there are public libraries throughout Hong Kong (see the full list here). You can borrow books in Hong Kong libraries for free, for two weeks, only with your HKID. Also, you can search the book you would like to read online and ship it to the nearest library for pick-up for 3.3 HKD.
Header image credits: Books & Co.