Indie bookstore Lit Books, established by husband and wife duo, Fong Min Hun and Elaine Lau, is gaining traction for its specially curated content, which they speak to Kathlyn D’souza about
What inspired you to start this project? MH:
When I was in Canada, I discovered the joy of liberal arts. I did my degree in philosophy, and during that time, I was exposed to the benefits and joys of systematic reading of the English cannon, and I’ve always loved small bookshops which I used to frequent as a student. I think that’s where the seed of this idea was implanted in my brain. After I came back to Malaysia, I found a job as a reporter, where we (Elaine and I) eventually met. Following that, I started my own consultancy, during when my soul shrank to the size of a walnut, so I decided to do something that would feed my soul again. Lit Books is essentially the response to that sense of desperation! He first started talking about it three years ago, and he kept saying, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore, I want to start a bookstore.’ I just nodded, and thought it was merely a passing comment, but he didn’t stop talking about it! So I said, ‘If you’re really serious, let’s put a plan together.’
EL: Why ‘Lit Books’? EL:
We were throwing some names around for a few months, and either I didn’t like it, or he didn’t. So how? I’ve always liked the idea of ‘21st Century Bookseller’ but Elaine didn’t like it. And everybody hated that name—by everyone I mean most of the friends that we asked. And one day, literally, it was just a moment of inspiration. ‘Lit’ is catchy, and ‘lit’ was slang for cool! Plus it’s short for literature. I thought it was great!
MH: EL: What do both of you hope to achieve from this bookstore? EL:
We’ve had a lot of people (I’d say half of our customers) ask what an independent bookstore means. I guess, we’d like to put out this idea of a curated bookstore and why that is a value proposition—having someone that you can talk to about your choices and helping you make that decision, to understand the role of an independent bookstore. Bookstore chains have their own roles as well, but in order to add more vibrancy to the general reading public, they do need small players like us. There is no way that we can compete with chain bookstores, but we can add value by curating the books, and by creating a space that encourages browsing. We do go out of the way to pick out attractive covers. It’s basically designed to catch the eye. I think the ideal customer for us is not someone who
“Our ideal customer says, ‘I want something to read, but I don’t know what, so I’m here to check things out’”
necessarily knows what they want, but someone who says, ‘I want something to read, but I don’t know what, so I’m here to check things out.’
Are you looking into curating events as well, in the future? MH:
Actually, this entire space is designed for events—everything is on wheels. You can move anything here. Events are definitely something we’re looking into, like book reading sessions, workshops as well as forums.
Located at Tropicana Avenue, Lit Books welcomes book lovers to not only browse, but also chat and have a cup of coffee while there