Century-old bookshop closes down

Century-old bookshop closes down

SINGAPORE - CHINESE bookseller Commercial Press closed its last store in Singapore last Friday, ending a century- long chapter in the country's retail scene.

The company, also known as Shang Wu, decided not to renew its lease on the North Bridge Road store amid slow business as customers increasingly turn to the Internet.

Its decision follows the closure of two other long-established Chinese bookshops here - Chung Hwa Book Company in 1997 and Shanghai Book Company in 2008.

Commercial Press is well known as a publisher of Chinese- English dictionaries such as the Xinhua Zidian familiar to all students of the Chinese language.

Yesterday, book lovers told The Straits Times that it was sad to see another familiar name disappear from the Singapore bookshop scene.

Retired Chinese school principal Yap Koon Chan said he knew about the shop from when he was a pupil at Tao Nan Primary.

The 78-year-old added that in the 1950s and 1960s, even students from neighbouring countries went there to buy books.

"Its closure, together with even English-language bookshops like Borders and Page One recently, shows Singaporeans do not have a reading culture," he said.

A spokesman for the bookshop said: "The trend, even among Chinese book readers, is to go online and even if they wanted to buy a book, they are ordering it via the Net."

She added that its operations in Singapore, which included wholesale and online orders, were owned by Commercial Press' subsidiary in Hong Kong.

"The lease of our shop at North Bridge Centre expires in December and our boss in Hong Kong has decided not to renew it," she said.

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