By Penny K
80% off design titles. 50% off all other books. 30% off non-book items.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you haven’t been to Page One recently.
The mammoth (referring to size and soon-to-be status as extinct in Singapore) bookstore located on the second floor of VivoCity, is set to close on 19 February. To clear stock, all books go for a fraction of their original price.
Page One suffers the same fate as all bookstores in this age of high-speed Internet do, only made worse with sky-high rentals in the Singaporean context.
And that’s the official reason given for Page One closing. Rental is not viable and the retailer couldn’t come to an agreement with the landlord to reconfigure the shop space.
Standing at the entrance of what used to be a place nicely put together; where you could be lost in a book while lost in a bookstore, Page One looked last week like a marketplace of cheap ink, paper and cheaper people – people like me.
On one hand, the low prices were exciting, but overall, it was a sad affair.
At some point I got so depressed browsing through books that I wondered why more people couldn’t be like me. Why didn’t more people buy books they didn’t have time to read? That might have kept Page One alive. I also started to experience career anxieties such as: if nobody wants to read, do we no longer need people who write?
I was lost in my thoughts and some really good books but I was running out of time and really, this particular cookbook I was thumbing through was making me very hungry, so I decided to pay and go.
If you, like me, get depressed easily over the demise of bookstores, the queue to pay will make you more depressed. Expect to wait at least 20 minutes. Good news is that the queue forms right next to bookshelves in the Literature section so you could browse (and who knows decide to buy) a book while waiting or you could look out the window to a lovely view of Page One’s thriving neighbour, Soup Spoon.
Finally, I got to the front of the queue, paid and left. Three books for the price of $40 which would normally only buy me a book and a half.
I spent the train ride home wondering what formula there is to keep bookstores alive in Singapore. Then it occurred to me: assessment books. Now those are the real bestsellers. Just ask Popular.
The Page One sale is on from now till 19 Feb.
For more information on Page One, visit www.pageonegroup.com.
UPDATE: The Page One sale has been extended to 23 Feb!