Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Big Businesses

Much as I like romantic comedies, I hated You've Got Mail. The only one thing I liked about it was the little bookshop that Meg Ryan owned. And when I went to Melbourne, I found such a little bookshop selling children's books called the Little Bookroom. It had all sorts of children's books, it had staff who knew all the books they stocked and what they were about. They were also able to recommend books for every type of child out there. It was one of those places where you went just to feel good, warm and fuzzy. On one of our trips back to Melbourne, we went in search of the Little Bookroom and realised that it was no longer where it stood. The child in the both of us was heartbroken to have lost that little nook of books. We blamed Borders for nudging this little book store out of business much like how Tom Hank's Borders like bookstore bought out Meg Ryan's charming quaint store.

When Borders opened in Singapore, we didn't really care all that much. It was there but it didn't really seem like the icon of commercialism that it came to represent in indie-cultured, anti big-business Melbourne. Not until this week or rather this morning when I receive an email from Borders Singapore announcing a 20% discount off all books at the opening of Borders Parkway Parade. Parkway Parade is pretty much the equivalent to a suburban mall. A suburban mall that I have great attachment to. And I knew exactly what Borders was taking over. The local (well, as local as can get) MPH bookstore that has been there since I was a child. It's not as tiny as independent bookshops or the Little Bookroom but it had its charm. It had been one of the flagship stores of Parkway Parade since it's opening and after twenty over years has been pushed out of its home by the American conglomerate (okay, I'm exaggerating here, but my point stands).

I have many great memories of MPH at Parkway Parade. For the longest time, " meeting outside MPH" had a ubiquitous meaning for anyone living in the East. It meant you loitered outside MPH and if you were bored, you could venture in and be rest assured that whoever you were meeting would be able to find you inside. There was only one entrance and it was the most reliable place to meet. Now, there will be generations of kids who will never know how universal that phrase was for the people of the East.

Packrat and I face a dilemma. Do we, in a show of solidarity, boycott Borders at Parkway because they pushed MPH out or do we buy into commercialism and make use of the storewide 20% since it is about time we did our Christmas shopping?

I looked up the Little Bookroom and to my joy found that it had not closed down in Melbourne but had moved into one of the suburbs. And the article that illuminated this fact to me gave me my answer. If, in the face of pressure to reduce the price of books just to get a bigger cut of the book market, it refused to buy into the hype around Harry Potter and went about its business as if it were any other day and any other book that it carried, we should be able to do the same. The book should not represent what the world has turned into- one where loyalities are superficial and tossed around without any true sentiment and the nature of disposability and dispensability reign supreme. The question is whether we are strong enough to resist the lure of the dark side.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:35

0 thoughts...

0 thoughts...

Post a Comment

" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"