Book streets should meet local needs hinh anh 1The HCM City pedestrian-only Book Street at Nguyen Van Binh street in District 1 is a popular destination for local and foreign visitors (Photo: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) - The success of HCM City’s Book Street has spurred interest in setting up similar pedestrianised areas in other cities, but experts say that careful consideration should be made before opening new book streets.

Last year, the HCM City Book Street (located on Nguyen Van Binh Street in District 1) attracted 2.4 million visitors, earning a turnover of 50 billion VND (2.2 million USD), according to the Vietnam Publishers Association (VNPA).

The street organised 167 cultural and book-signing events, attracting dozens of leading domestic and foreign publishers, distributors and agencies.

Quach Thu Nguyet, Deputy Director of the Book Street One Member Limited Company, said: “Promoting reading culture is necessary. But it’s not easy to create a book street.”

Speaking at a recent meeting to celebrate the second anniversary of the city’s book street held in HCM City, she said the city had spent a year preparing for the book street, including collecting opinions from people, publishers, educators and cultural experts, finding a venue, and calling for support from publishers, distributors and businesses.

“The city’s People’s Committee has asked the Department of Information and Technology in collaboration with VNPA and our company to build new book streets in Districts 7, 5 and Go Vap district,” she said.

“We need to be careful and study people’s requirements and publishers’ potential,” she said, adding that there were only 60 publishers in Vietnam and some do not have the resources to invest in book streets.   

Nguyen Minh Nhut, Director of the Tre (Youth) Publishing House, said that his company earned revenue of 11 billion VND (484,800 USD) after two years participating in the book street through selling books and organising book-signing meetings with best-selling authors.

However, since the company’s revenue is mostly from wholesale sales to the country’s leading distributors such as Phuong Nam Book Company and the HCM City Book Distribution Company (FAHASA), the publisher is not interested in taking part in other book streets, according to Nhut.

The company joined the HCM City book street as a reply to the city’s call, he said, adding that the book street in District 1 was a great venue for book introductions and signings, so the company does not plan to take part in other book streets.  

Nhut noted that the book street at Nguyen Dong Chi Street in District 7 was planned to begin last October with 20 stalls, but has yet to open. HCM City General Publishing House, Tre Publishing House, Nha Nam, First News all agreed to take part in.

“I think the city should invite Phu My Hung Company to join in creating and supporting the street. And the products and events in District 7 should be different from those held in the book street in District 1,” Nhut said.

Nguyen Thị Thu, Vice Chairwoman of the HCM City People’s Committee, agreed with the nearly 100 participants from the VNPA, publishers, and departments of Culture, Sports and Tourism in neighbouring provinces, and asked the city’s Department of Information and Technology to collect opinions and make a new plan to create more book streets in HCM City. 

“The department, however, must study the people’s needs to find an appropriate model for book streets for each district,” Thu said, adding that the department should work with Phu My Hung to set up a book street in District 7.-VNA