the book business

a photo shoot for Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury



I know selling books, especially if you are the owner of a small, indie bookshop, is though. Several times I lay awake at night, stare at the dark ceiling and wonder another way out of another new maze. Like it or not, I have found myself lost in mazes. It’s been over a year since I started my small online bookstore, and the mazes I have gone through are countless (sometimes I had to detour the same problems – amazingly they led to different exit!).

I can always sit and give up, but I enjoy it so much I don’t want to stop. I know this might take forever, but because I think it’s important to look back and count your accomplishment, no matter how small it is, I feel that I already carry out so many miniscule goals (I don’t care, they are still my goals!).

Just like my solo journey to Japan, where I don’t have anyone but me, I made new friends along the way, this happens too on my journey in book business. I have met lots of wonderful people who support me along the way. My customers who are nice enough to keep me up to date with their little ones’ reading habit, my distributors who are extra nice to hold books for me until I can pay for them, people on instagram, young talented illustrators that willing to do some project with the bookstore *excited* and many more. I feel, in a way, a bit braver.

For that, I thank my little bookshop. Probably not the biggest and the best bookstore ever (not yet!), but it certainly makes me feel I’m a better person!


alf and lou bookstore

earlier this year, my obsession toward children’s books is growing stronger and stronger. I kept posting and talking about it. And obviously I couldn’t stop buying them! One day I was talking to H about an illustrator and her book when he said: you should sell them.

I replied enthusiastically : that has been my dream!!!

but starting a bookstore seemed like something impossible. I mean, people do that but we have big competitors like Amazon (and their affiliated online bookstore around the world), we have big chain stores as well, you can easily spot them in every malls. How can I compete with them?

I thought about it and thought some more. I did my research, talked to lots of people in the business, correspondent with publishers abroad, and then did some simple mind map. The result was: this is entirely possible. When I decided I was gonna do it, I felt an adrenaline rush and I was filled with excitement. I knew this won’t be easy but I was ready to sail the ship!

It was 5 or 6 months ago, and we decided to start slow. we don’t know anything about the business and we want to be careful. So far, this is what we’ve got:

a logo

a Facebook page

an instagram account

a pop up bookstore

not bad 🙂

those are things I had never thought I could do before. The amount of support I’ve been receiving from people around me has helped me a lot. I know these are too small to be called a goal, but they are my little ‘hooray I did It!’.