Reading in Hong Kong is not often thought as particularly social. James aims to make reading a trendy expereince.
James: We have a mission statement that says we are promoting the reading experience, so is it just about books? Not necessarily. Is it about story telling? Not necessarily. Rolling Books is involved with anything that has to do with reading. I want people to change the ideas they have about reading. For some people, reading is very academic. In school, reading will be about studying. These are the ideas about reading. Story telling is only a tool we use to facilitate reading. While to some extent the I think the agendas like climate change are very important, I really hope to promote the reading experience. When everybody has changed their mind on the reading experience, it will be easier to do reading promotion. Through our programs, through our selection of books, through our processes of story-telling, we can tell our agendas. Agendas are the by-products, we can use these opportunities to tell people about these stories. The most important thing for us is to change the reading experience. Because in Hong Kong we say things like, well, there’s a lot of people reading books so why can’t the bookstores sustain themselves?
The reading experience is not trendy. People think reading is outdated; if you go to movies, you will go with your friends, if you have a fashion show or something trendy you will go, or if your friends play the game Animal Crossing, you will play the game too—such things are trendy. The problem is, why can’t reading do that? Because reading is not trendy. Is there some way we can allow everyone to feel reading is a trendy thing? What makes the reading experience special? I like to read books, but the more important thing is how do I invite people who do not like to read, to like to read as well? I am not trying to introduce a book to you, which a lot of people are doing, but instead I want to continuously think in the concept of rolling books: how do I promote the reading experience so it allows people to think that there are many different ways to read? I gave an example of running book club, is that a way to reimagine it? Can you imagine, after running and all sweaty, and we start to read books?
These are the things that we want to break on the stereotypes of reading. I can do a hiking books club, meaning I hike up the mountain and then read a book at the peak, no? People always think that reading books is about reading indoors. Can I suggest an outdoor reading? Outdoor reading is actually an environmentally friendly thing no? We don’t need to turn on lights. You can have some cool breeze, and the whole thing can feel very comfortable. We don’t have a lot of people talking about outdoor reading. How do I eventually promote the reading experience? It won’t be in one event or something that allows me to do this. Maybe through similar activities, we would be able to slowly spread this idea on the reading experience. Following the name Rolling Books, we hope there is a car that brings the books out to the people. Some says that the public library does something similar, but we are trying to do something very different from the public library.