|Popular spot: The HCM City pedestrian-only Book Street at Nguyễn Văn Bình Street in District 1 is a popular destination for local and foreign visitors. — VNS Photo Phương Mai|
HCM CITY — 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 Nguyễn Văn Bình Street in District 1) attracted 2.4 million visitors, earning a turnover of VNĐ50 billion (US$2.2 million), according to the Việt Nam Publishers Association (VNPA).
The street organised 167 cultural and book-signing events, attracting dozens of leading domestic and foreign publishers, distributors and agencies.
Quách Thu Nguyệt, 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 meeting to celebrate the second anniversary of the city’s book street held in HCM City on Tuesday, 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 Gò Vấp 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 Việt Nam and some do not have the resources to invest in book streets.
Nguyễn Minh Nhựt, director of Trẻ (Youth) Publishing House, said that his company earned revenue of VNĐ11 billion ($484,800) 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 Phương 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 Nhựt.
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.
Nhựt noted that the book street at Nguyễn Đổng Chi Street in District 7 was planned to begin last October with 20 stalls, but has yet to open. HCM City General Publishing House, Trẻ Publishing House, Nhã Nam, First News all agreed to take part.
“I think the city should invite Phú Mỹ Hưng 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,” Nhựt said.
Nguyễn Thị Thu, deputy chairwoman of the city’s 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 Phú Mỹ Hưng to set up a book street in District 7. — VNS