Book lovers, get your tissues out. Favoured book haunt MPH Bookstores has announced that they are closing their last two outlets in Singapore — Raffles City and Parkway Parade — by July 28 and September 1, respectively. But that might not be the end of the well-loved Malaysian bookstore chain; MPH is exploring the idea of re-opening in another Singapore location in the future. Fingers crossed!
MPH cited overly high rental payments and fierce competition from e-commerce book sellers as the main reasons for shutting down their last two Singapore branches, as reported by Lianhe Zaobao.
Online book retailers bring in massive amounts of sales, but brick-and-mortar bookstores still have a unique appeal. According to The New Paper, MPH is counting on the staying power of books and is in the process of restructuring and streamlining its resources, exploring the possibility of re-opening in another location in Singapore but have remained mum on where exactly that might be.
TNP spoke with Epigram Books, which is the first bookstore in Singapore that only stocks and publishes books by local authors.
“Fewer outlets mean fewer places for publishers to sell books and fewer places for readers to buy books. Writers will continue to write, so publishers will just have to get creative on how to sell the books,” said Epigram Books founder and publisher Edmund Wee.
As writers continue to write, readers will continue to read. It’s not yet the end of physical bookstores, despite the popularity of online retailers.
MPH is counting on being able to bounce back from this setback, citing examples of overseas bookstores that were able to rise up from similar challenges.
However hopeful they may be, the current situation for bookstores is concerning. MPH is not the only one that has had to change their signs from “open” to “closed”.
Japanese bookshop Kinokuniya, known for their extensive Japanese book selection, closed its Liang Court branch on April 21 of this year after 36 years of operations, blaming very low sales for the outlet shutdown.
Big bookstore chain Popular also had to say goodbye to its Thomson Plaza outlet just last month on June 23, after 31 years of business.
The last two MPH branches have been emptying their shelves of their stocks, signalling that this end is truly nigh. It’s not all sad news, however; shutdowns also mean massive sales — the Raffles City branch has every last book on a 30% discount (50% discount on some!), while the Parkway Plaza outlet will hold what should be a huge clearance sale next month as well.
Those books need love, and with sales like that, book lovers all over Singapore will be lining up to give them new homes. Happy book shopping and keep reading! /TISG