The story of how this bookshop came to be shares similar beginnings with most of our other Really Good-Bad Ideas. It typically begins when the excited party (me) decides to share his fun but impractical idea with the sober voice of reason (usually Elaine). The conversation goes something along the lines of the following:
— Hey, I’ve got a fantastic idea!
— What is it now?
— Let’s open a bookshop!
Unfortunately for Elaine, my outlook in life is somewhat Hegelian in the sense that statements antithetical to mine own are seen as opportunities for synthesis and evolution rather than an outright denial of the statement. Chagrined but unbeaten, I kept at it.
For three years.
During that time, clandestine market research was conducted typically involving my chatting up cashiers at local bookstores, some advice was sought, and distributors consulted. I must admit that my findings were not entirely encouraging. Bookselling, at that time, seemed was on a downturn: internet things, the decline in Malaysian reading habits, dodgy retail environment, etc.
It was enough to dampen my enthusiasm for the project. But strangely, even as my enthusiasm waned, Elaine’s began to grow. So much so that after another six-month season of soul-destroying, ball-shrinking corporate consultancy, she said let’s do it. And do it we did.
But if we are going to do this damned fool thing, she said, we have got to do this damned fool thing right (I paraphrase). She was right, of course. My vision of an industrial shack piled high with books helter-skelter in some godforsaken corner of the city was probably not going to be sustainable over the long-term.
So it looks like yes, holy $@#&! We’re opening a bookshop.