We were in Kinokuniya Books in Bugis Junction one day, and we saw boxes and boxes stacked by one shelf. The shelf was one that contained the less popular reading material, and the books within the boxes held no relation to the ones on the shelves.
I remembered another local bookstore with its huge print run stacked up all over the retail space. I remembered Gramophone and all the sad jewel cases laid out for sale shortly before they closed for good.
I think I never imagined the enormity of the stock big retailers saddle themselves with. But looking at the stuff Gramophone had, and for how long they had them, I realised that wrong choices in purchasing can be very devastating indeed. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember how long ago it was that Gramophone started its sales. In my mind, there was always a sale coming along. Then, the Cathay branch became a permanent sale place, the City Hall branch closed down, and despite my efforts to buy something from them from time to time, it became harder because they stopped being comprehensive and were probably trying to make more efficient stocking decisions. My friends joked with me about my membership card, reminding me to return it soon to get back my deposit. I eventually did, sometime in 2012.
Anyway, that day in Kinokuniya had me thinking. I certainly don’t want it to fold and for our Singapore to be left without a reading culture. A library may not suffice, because the copies libraries buy would be much less. And let’s be real, writers need to earn a living too.
It’s easy to go to your local bookstore, browse and decide and then say, let’s save some money and buy from Book Depository or Amazon instead. But the day may come when your bookstore closes down because the revenue it takes in doesn’t cover the rent (another problem altogether, but it is very, very onerous). And I don’t know about you, but the book recommendation feature online still cannot replace the carefree browsing as you walk through a bookstore.
We are growing up into a world where the economy may never again see the numbers it is used to seeing, and it might be good if more of us pay attention to where our money is going, instead of blindly paying for the cheapest.
Literature and art salve the pain of modern existence. We actually have the money to pay for them and the intelligence to ensure that they continue to exist, so why do we not?