TAIPEI (The China Post) – Reading on electronic devices may be convenient, but nothing can replicate the feeling of curling up with a book. To bring back the delight of reading books, EP-BOOKS revolutionized the concept of traditional bookstores, opening doors in July 2016. The China Post had the pleasure of visiting the bookstore and chatting with chairman Steve Day. Here is an edited version of the conversation:
With a background managing restaurant chains, how did you make the change from leading the Wowprime Group to opening a bookstore? | 您管理餐廳連鎖店的經歷非常豐富，請問您是如何轉換跑道而創辦書屋？
The motivation behind this bookstore was to bring back the simple pleasure of reading and to create a stress-free reading environment. It was also the chance for me to do something with what I love the most. I was always a bookworm and I majored in Chinese Literature at university. Opening a bookstore where everyone could enjoy reading has been my dream since then. Even when I was working at Wowprime, I did not forget that this was what I wanted to do ultimately in life.
EP-BOOKS is unlike any other bookstore in Taiwan. Can you share with us where the idea for it came from? | 益品書屋跟臺灣的其他書店不一樣，請問您是從哪得到這樣的點子？
During my days with Wowprime, I went trekking at Mount Everest Base Camp two times on staff trips. On those two occasions, it was interesting to see the differences between Asians, who were usually chatting in groups during break time, and Westerners, who often enjoyed the mountain view with a book in hand. This reminded me how crucial reading is for self-nourishment and to become a person of culture.
I want to provide a place for people to relax and read. Bookstores and libraries in Taiwan tend to make people feel stiff and self-conscious. It is awkward to read at bookstores. When you read there for three to four hours a day, there is that thought of store clerks looming in the background and staring you down for not buying anything.
This takes away the fun of reading. You would not have this problem in libraries, but it wouldn’t be possible to get a coffee or tea to go along with your book. The idea of EP-BOOKS stemmed from finding a way to solve both problems.
Can you share with us how EP-BOOKS is managed and some of the challenges that you have encountered so far? How are customers reacting to this new bookstore concept? | 請問您是如何經營益品書屋呢？至今為止有沒有遇到什麼挑戰呢？顧客的反應又如何呢？
It goes back to creating a reading-friendly environment. Here, the atmosphere is much more lively, which allows everyone to find their own corner to hide away and dive into a book. We have fresh flowers and a violinist playing in the background in the afternoons and a spacious reading area. We do not sell books, so there is no pressure to make a purchase. The entrance fee is NT$100 and you are welcomed to stay here for as long as you like and with unlimited access to tea, coffee, and other drinks.
這點依舊和打造友善的閱讀環境有關，這裡的氛圍是活潑溫馨的，每個人都能在這裡找到一個專屬於自己的角落，安心躲進書本的世界。書桌上擺有鮮花，下午有時也會有小提琴家在此演奏。我們不賣書，所以消費者不會有買書的壓力；只要100 元，不限時間，就能在此盡情閱讀， 同時享受咖啡、茶等飲料，且無限暢飲。
Buying the right books that appeal to readers is more of a concern for me. For readers to pick up a book after the bookshelf, the topic needs to pique their curiosity, to begin with, so there should also be plenty of images inside to make it easy to read. Therefore, our books fall under categories such as aesthetics, food and dining, lifestyle, travel and children’s books.
There is also the issue of establishing trust between the customers and us. We have no policies of getting your hand re-stamped for re-entry, nor do we have surveillance cameras. If we had these rules, it would be too complicated and ruin the satisfaction of savoring books.
By The China Post