My friend Anthony Koh whose roving bookstore I blogged about a couple of months ago, is on track to achieving his dream – a physical bookstore for writers. It may take a while but he’s getting there as his business gains traction and more lovers of the written word are aware there’s someone passionate about promoting reading and writing in an age when many only have enough attention for short messages and videos.
Last Sunday, he held his fourth book fair at the Armenian Church. ‘We had our first at Caffe Pralet, a cafe cum culinary school in Tiong Bahru area. The second book fair was in their old kitchen. The third was held at The Arts House in conjunction with a writing workshop that I conducted.’
As the Church is the oldest Christian church in Singapore, opened in 1835 and gazetted as a national monument in 1973, Anthony had tourists as well as locals of all ages wandering in. ‘I don’t know if they came in for the books or they just looked at them after a tour of the church compound. Possibly, the former because I hung two book fair posters outside the gate.’
The response has been encouraging as Anthony gathers new customers. ‘Our very first customer in the morning was a bibliophile from the Philippines. Like me, she can’t stop buying books. She wasn’t aware of our book fair but she saw the posters, walked in, and bought a bag of books from us! The other early customer was a school librarian who was strolling in the garden with her husband and overheard my conversation with the Filipina. She was so inspired by what I do that she invited me to go to her all-boys school to fire up the students’ interest in reading.’
After a few fairs, Anthony has a better idea of what people like. ‘I would say books on writing and award-winning novels sell equally well, followed by quirky books. I observed that people who bought books on writing also asked for books on grammar. We had several books on grammar but they flew off the shelves in the first two book fairs. Sales of books on writers and literary criticism has been slow.’
Anthony tells me the website I mentioned is wrong, so here we go again – visit http://booktique.weebly.com or https://www.facebook.com/WriterBooktique to find the next Booktique location.
For all book lovers, what could be a nicer gift ?