Fans applaud Chinese bookstore opening in town amid Covid-19
While the Covid-19 pandemic has caused the end of many businesses, it marks a new beginning for Zall Bookstore.
A two-storey niche Chinese bookstore located at Wheelock Place, it opens its doors to the public from 11am to 10pm daily starting Feb 8
It aims to be a 24-hour outfit just like its Hubei, China stores when current pandemic restrictions are lifted.
At Zall’s media preview last Friday, Ms Yan Ge, 24, general manager of the Singapore branch, said it “creates a completely immersive experience into the world of books” and is “perfect for enthusiasts who are keen to learn more about Chinese culture”.
It stocks more than 30,000 books - including Chinese literature, humanities, history, and philosophy from China and Taiwan - and also houses a cafe and art gallery.
Ms Yan, the daughter of writer-poet-billionaire Yan Zhi who founded Zall in 2013, told The New Paper: “The pandemic has disrupted our lives. I think books can be a source of strength and positive energy. What sets Zall apart is that it provides a holistic environment for reading Chinese books and appreciating Chinese culture.”
Ms Tan Kee Yun, a 38-year-old communications executive and avid reader of Chinese books, said: “It is great that Zall is located in the middle of town. It is very accessible.”
Local illustrator, writer and picture-book author Mr Lee Kow Fong, also known as Ah Guo, added: “I welcome the opening of any bookstore in Singapore, more so if it’s a Chinese one. We will have a new book and cultural spot, and maybe it can help to (change) the mindset of the younger generation, to see Chinese culture and language as something trendy and less boring.”
Opening for 24 hours would also be an attractive unique selling point when it is eventually implemented.
Mr Lee said: “It may have some novelty and create buzz among Singaporeans looking for something new and interesting.”
Despite opening amid a challenging climate, Ms Yan feels there is still a community which enjoys Chinese literature, and while the capital and rental is “quite a lot”, she is expecting positive sales.
Ms Tan said: “I applaud the owners for their bravery. Maybe one of their considerations is that the people who cannot go overseas due to Covid-19 (have) more spending power (now), (so) they will spend more on books.”