Central’s 20-year-old secondhand bookshop, Flow, will likely reopen soon after raising enough funds to pay part of its overdue rent.

“I am very grateful to everyone who supported Flow,” the bookstore owner Surdham Lam told HKFP on Thursday. “We can see the light. Let’s keep the strength and reopen Flow.”

Surdham Lam. File Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Lam launched a fundraiser earlier this month when his landlord obtained a court order freezing the bookstore’s assets over outstanding rent. He was able to raise more than HK$152,000 within three weeks, meeting the target set by his landlord.

Lam will be finalising details of a new tenancy agreement with the landlord, after which he will announce the reopening date of the shop.

He is also considering ideas to ensure a sustainable book business, such as launching a book subscription programme and converting part of the store into a multipurpose room or a cafe.

“I have not fully utilised my resources, such as the space of the shop and overall cleanliness. I don’t have the manpower to organise the book stock and it has become messy,” he admitted.


After Lam appealed to the public for help, many have responded to his call over recent weeks. A fundraising event held on Wednesday by the University of Hong Kong’s HeForShe gender initiative and the Peel Street Poets group raised over HK$4,000 for Flow.

Flow Bookshop. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

“I could tell everyone is concerned about Flow, and they acted promptly to give their support,” he said. “I apologise for not being able to reply to every message, but I hope to do it later.”

While waiting to reopen the store, Lam has started an initiative to set up pop-up bookstores in an effort to encourage people to pass books on when they no longer want them. The first event is scheduled for Friday from 1pm to 1:30pm outside Lan Fong Yuen restaurant on Gage Street, Central.

See also: Flow: The endangered bookshop where profit takes second place to building relationships

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. On May 14, he was told that a public auction would proceed the next day. He issued an urgent appeal less than 13 hours before the auction. He was able to secure an extension to shore up funds after many responded to his call.

Founded in 1997, Flow Bookshop was relocated several times before settling at its current location on Lyndhurst Terrace in Central.

Ellie Ng

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