LIT­ER­ALLY LIT­ER­ARY

Malaysia Tatler - - CONCIERGE -

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

MH:

“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.

EL:

Lo­cated at Trop­i­cana Av­enue, Lit Books wel­comes book lovers to not only browse, but also chat and have a cup of cof­fee while there

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