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Saved by donations, FlowBooks, to reopen as social enterprise

Failing second-hand bookstore FlowBooks in Central, rescued by HK$150,000 in donations from the public, will reopen as a social enterprise co-owned by the donors.

FlowBooks owner Surdham Lam says he hopes to “climb Everest” with the revived venture.

He says he is extremely grateful for the generous support for his a online crowdfunding campaign last month. The store has mainly been offering second-hand English-language books.

The 53-year-old, who founded his business in December 1997 shortly after Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to China, says he hopes to make it profitable in the long term. He has been in talks with a corporate sponsor, online rental platform ECrent, to explore ways of generating more income for the shop.

“No matter what the situation, this is now a co-owned bookshop,” say Lam, whose Lyndhurst Terrace shop has been temporarily locked since he fell into arrears with his landlord. He is planning further fundraising to put the next phase of his business development plan into action.

Hong Kong’s bookshops have found it increasingly hard to survive because of rising rents and the growing popularity of online book stores. Dymocks and Page One, bookstore chains from Australia and Singapore respectively, have both had to close their Hong Kong branches in the past two years.

Nearly HK$90,000 of Flowbook’s SimplyGiving crowdfunding campaign was generated through offline fundraising. In the final hours, an event at music venue The Orange Peel in Lan Kwai Fong raised more than HK$4000 for the bookstore.

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