Book Fair aims to raise the tone - and the intellect

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There will be space and time for famous authors and bloggers but not for those peddling a little flesh at this year's Hong Kong Book Fair.

The event will run July 21-27 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and will boast more than 500 exhibitors from 20 countries - meaning it will rival the size and scope of the Beijing International Book Fair in August, traditionally the largest in the region and one of the top four such events in the world each year.

As well as exhibits promoting books, including a special section this year covering e-books and digital publishing, the Hong Kong event has invited internationally acclaimed authors Frederick Forsyth and Stephen Fry to attend the event, along with historian Andrew Roberts and poet James Fenton. Chinese blogger Han Han - recently named among Time' magazine's "100 world's most influential people'' - will also read from his books.

Close to a million people attended last year's edition of the book show which has become seen in the publishing industry as a major link between the international and Chinese publishing industries.

Unfortunately for organizers - the Hong Kong Trade Development Council - much of the media focus on last year's event (and a good deal of the public's focus too) was on the book-signing sessions held by a collection of scantily glad amateur or "pseudo'' models.

These included Chrissie Chau Sau-na whose "Kissy Chrissie'' picture book showed she had been blessed with the ability to spill milk and ice-cream down her ample front. The book sold out and thousands jostled for the chance to meet Chau.

But there'll be none of that this year. The event is keen to establish its more literary aspirations and so book-signing session have been banned with organizers saying they wanted the event to be more family-oriented.

To that end there will be around 200 "Reading the World, Writing the Future'' cultural events held as part of the fair.

"The high quality of both English and Chinese writers appearing at the fair this year will reinforce the growing importance of the fair as a premier cultural and literary event,'' a HKTDC spokesman said.