LocalBooks online shop keeps growing

In its first six months, an online shop featuring solely Singapore books, LocalBooks.sg, has seen a steady 20 per cent increase in month-by-month sales.

However, to support his dream of having a home just for local books, owner Edmund Wee had to put his own books up for sale. In November, he listed more than 10,000 books he had accumulated since his college days, reports Asia One.

“We started with $100,000 as start-up capital. I found that it was not enough, so I went to sell all my books,” says Wee, who is publisher at local imprint Epigram Books.

His online store carries 1500 titles including graphic novels, award-winning fiction and poetry, children’s series, lifestyle books and works in other languages. There are a further 8000 titles on backlist.

“Over the years, I always asked myself, ‘How do we make local books more popular?’. I thought of making a bookstore just selling Singapore books, but the rentals for bookstores are just too expensive,” says Wee, 64.

When his own collection went on line, it included personal favourites such as the Letterpress Shakespeare set and a special edition of DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Most of the books went for S$2 to S$5 and some shoppers bought box lots of them. Special editions that cost up to S$100 (US$70) were sold for S$10.

Wee raised $30,000, which is being used to run the online store.

Meanwhile, his team is also looking to include a list of out-of-print titles for customers to indicate their purchase interest, to help publishers decide whether these titles should be reprinted.

LocalBooks co-founder Julie Hyun says local publishers are working hard to have these books known “and really need a platform for people to discover them”.

The team spent about five months gathering titles and reaching out to other publishers, such as Ethos Books and Pepper Dog Press, which have put up their titles for sale at LocalBooks.

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