Bookspot of the Week: Bleak House Books

For this week’s bookspot, we chatted with Albert Wan, the co-founder and Chief Bookworm No. 1 of Bleak House Books in San Po Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Bookspot / Libraries
bleak house books

Welcome back to Bookspot of the Week! For this week’s bookspot, we chatted with Albert Wan, the co-founder and Chief Bookworm No. 1 of Bleak House Books in San Po Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Perhaps the only bookshop located on the 27th floor of a building, Bleak House Books is home to book talks, poetry readings, film screenings, and (of course) stacks and stacks of books.

 

 

How did your bookstore transition from concept to reality?

Equal parts hard work, perseverance, and luck.

 

via Bleak House Books

What do you feel is unique to your bookstore?

We might be the world’s only bookshop located on the 27th floor of an office building. Which means we have sweeping views but no sidewalk on which to display our overflow books.

 

via Bleak House Books

If you had infinite space, what might you add to the store?

Definitely a small bar area where we can serve strong, dark coffee and two beers on tap: an ale and a pilsner.

 

via Bleak House Books

 

 

How do you feel your bookstore fits into your local community?

Let’s see . . . How much time do your readers have and what’s the word limit for this question?

There are many things we do to serve the community in which we work and live. We lend our bookshop to members of the community who want to use it for events like book talks, poetry readings, and film screenings. We stock books based on the needs, desires, and interests of the community. We are outspoken on issues that concern the community like social justice and certain political topics. How much longer we can do that is an open question with mainland China getting very close to imposing its own National Security Law in Hong Kong. We work with schools when we can to get kids to read more books and spend less time staring at screens. Most of all though we work hard to maintain and operate a bookshop that is well-stocked, peaceful, and welcoming to the people of all persuasions and from all walks of life.

 

Bleak House books

via Bleak House Books

What does your store offer that a chain or online retailer can’t?

See my answer to the question immediately above.

 

via Bleak House Books

What about your store do you think appeals to your neighborhood?

Our neighborhood is an area called San Po Kong, on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. San Po Kong was once a bustling hub of factories that churned out toys, textiles, and plastic flowers. Many of those factory buildings have been converted into self-storage spaces, artist and yoga studios, and rehearsal spaces. The area as a whole is still very local and very working class, which is a contrast to the other side of Hong Kong (Hong Kong Island) that is the home to the many gleaming skyscrapers and office towers that most people associate with Hong Kong.

 

 

Our bookshop appeals to the community because it is quiet, spacious and cozy. Being inside our bookshop is like being inside the library of a booklover’s home, away from the hustle and bustle of the city that lies just outside our windows.

 

via Bleak House Books

Do you have any staff picks or releases we should watch out for?

One of our most popular books has been City on Fire by Antony Dapiran (Scribe Publications 2020), a lawyer and local writer. It is about the political turmoil and ensuing protests that have gripped Hong Kong for the past year. It is well-written, comprehensive, and well-paced, and I highly recommend the book for anyone who wants to learn more about the deteriorating situation here in Hong Kong, and the lessons it might hold for those living in other parts of the world ruled by unresponsive, tyrannical governments.

 

via Bleak House Books

For more bookish content, check out @bleakhousebookshk on Instagram. Do you know of a book shop worthy of a spotlight on our site? Contact us through any of our socials and you may just find it here next week!

Featured image via bleak house books