The store began life in Singapore, opened its first Malaysian branch in 1984 and now has 57 branches across this country alone. (For more on the history of the company, read this entry on Wikipedia.)
One of the biggest hurdles the store has to overcome is that of perception. As Elizabeth Tai says in the article :
Think Popular bookstore and chances are, you’ll think, “Oh, Chinese books, and a great range of stationery”.But Executive Director Lim Lee Ngoh (right) explains how Popular is expanding in the English book-selling sector; how it has been opening mega stores to provide a one-stop service for book buyers; and how it is hosting the third BookFest@Malaysia event, which will take place from May 24 to June 1 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. (See picture of last year's fair above.)
Any bookshop that wants to widen its appeal needs to do more though than increase floor space and pile books up high.
Popular clearly needs to sex the image of the store up (and maybe the recently announced book prize is a step in the right direction).
And then of course, there's the squiginess factor to take into account. The bookshops that woo the customers best are those that turn themselves into a pleasant destination where you're happy to spend time.
As Lim says, it is a very tough line of business to be in!
What are you thoughts on Popular bookstores? Do you do much of your book buying there?