SINGAPORE - Well-known book rental store EMF Bookstore reopens on May 15 at Fusionopolis in One-North, barely two months after closing its 27- year-old flagship outlet at Holland Village in February.
Meanwhile, chain bookstore owner Popular Holdings is dropping its five-month experiment to resurrect the Borders brand at Westgate mall. After May 18, the outlet reverts to a typical outlet of the Popular textbook and stationery chain, with no cafe on the premises.
EMF Bookstore will open a 400 sq ft outlet in the basement of one of the Connexis towers of the Fusionopolis buildings above One-North MRT station. It will offer new and used books for sale and rental, says co-owner Margaret Zhang, 63, whose husband Eddie started the EMF brand in 1987 at Holland Road Shopping Centre. The store has a short-term lease of six months to test the waters, she adds, declining to reveal the monthly rental.
In the 1990s, the EMF book rental chain had at least six stores in Singapore, where readers could buy books and get back most of their money if they returned them within about a month. At the start of this year, there were only two EMF outlets left.
A 500 sq ft space at Holland Road Shopping Centre was given up on Feb 27, with Mr Zhang citing rising rents but declining to reveal figures. EMF Bookstore shut its only other outlet at KK Women's and Children's Hospital last Friday, citing few walk-in customers. Books borrowed from the hospital store can be returned at the Fusionopolis outlet.
Mrs Zhang hopes the Fusionopolis shop will attract new clientele via the eateries and offices in the complex. She is confident that customers who frequented the Holland Road outlet will return.
About 1,800 people signed up on the store mailing list after the flagship shop closed, many placing orders for books and collecting them at ongoing roadshows at shopping centres around the island.
Reader Vernice Chua, 39, who works in sales, has been a regular at EMF's Holland Road outlet since her undergraduate days at the National University of Singapore. She says: "These past few years have been excruciating with all the bookstores closing down, so I'm excited that EMF is coming back."