Central’s 20-year-old secondhand bookstore Flow Bookshop has launched an online crowdfunding campaign as it faces possible forced closure owing to overdue rent.

Flow owner Surdham Lam launched the campaign on crowdfunding platform Simply Giving on Friday. He has until Sunday to raise HK$150,000 in donations, which partially cover the outstanding rent.

flow bookshop
Flow Bookshop. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Donors will receive a book in return. Lam will also donate a book in the donor’s name to children through schools, charities and other entities.

Lam told HKFP that he had so far raised HK$48,000 – one-third of the target – since last Sunday evening, when he issued an urgent appeal in an effort to prevent a public auction from clearing the bookstore’s assets the following morning.


Many people have responded to Lam’s call over the past week.

The University of Hong Kong’s HeForShe gender initiative and the Peel Street Poets group, for instance, are hosting an open mic night next Wednesday to support Flow.

Independent bookstore Bleak House Books also joined the call, offering every Flow’s donor a free book.

flow bookshop
Flow Bookshop. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Besides gathering funds, Lam is seeking ideas of reorganising the business to ensure its long-term survival. Suggestions included improving its database system and converting part of the 1,200-square-feet shop into a multipurpose room or cafe.

“I am deeply touched by all the help I have received since last week. I truly want to better integrate the power to continue helping FlowBooks to become a stronger, healthier bookstore in the future by accepting their advice and [taking] action,” he said.

“I hope to transform this crisis into an opportunity,” he added. “I don’t want to let Flow’s supporters down.”

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Lam received a court order freezing the bookstore’s assets on May 5. He issued the first public appeal four days later after failing to mediate with the landlord.

Despite the appeal, Lam was unable to raise enough money. Last Sunday, he was told that a public auction would proceed the next day. He issued an urgent appeal less than 13 hours before the auction was set to take place.

He said he received many private messages and donations overnight. Though the amount was not enough to meet the target set by his landlord, he was able to convince them to give him a seven-day extension to shore up funds.

In the meantime, Flow was padlocked to protect the interests of the landlord.

The fate of the bookstore remains uncertain as Lam is still short of around HK$100,000 in funds.

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Ellie Ng

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