Secondhand bookstore Flow Bookshop has issued an urgent appeal seeking public donations to save it from forced closure.

Its owner, Surdham Lam Sam, told HKFP that he is hoping 3,000 people will donate HK$50 by 10am Monday, an hour before a public auction has been scheduled to clear the assets of the 20-year-old bookstore.

flow bookstore
Photo: Flow, via Facebook.

Last Tuesday, Lam’s landlord gave three days notice for a partial payment of overdue rent. Lam immediately sought mediation with the landlord, whilst shoring up money borrowed from friends and generated with an emergency sale.

However, he was unable to meet the target and was told by an auction house Sunday that a public auction would be held on Monday morning. He seeks to raise HK$150,000 from the public.

“Hopefully we will be able to raise enough money and come to an agreement with the landlord before the auction,” Lam said. “Then I will try to resolve the whole dispute with the landlord, hopefully.”

He added that donors will receive a book in return, in line with the idea of the constant flow of books that he has been promoting for the last 20 years of running the shop.

flow bookshop
The building where Flow is located. Photo: Flow Bookshop, via Facebook.

“‘Flow’ means rediscovering the potential of abandoned books by passing them to their new owners, so that their lifespans can be extended,” Lam said in an interview with Apple Daily two years ago.

He did not blame his landlord, saying that they have been “very compassionate” and have been allowing him to postpone rent payments. He told HK01 earlier that he felt responsible for not being business-minded enough.

“Please forgive me. Sorry,” Lam wrote in a Facebook post when appealing for help last Tuesday.

Lam was an environmental protection officer before founding Flow Bookshop in 1997. The bookstore was relocated several times before settling in its current location on Lyndhurst Terrace in Central.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.