PSA from Joshua Ip


i've resisted writing about the closure of the physical retail front of BooksActually for a bit, but here are some thoughts that i retrieved from a hypothetical article i might have been beginning to write but thought better of - reshaped into my inner uncle arguing with the hypothetical hipster in my head.

"BA was the heart of sing lit events in singapore, now they close already got no more events, sing lit is ded" - this is fek news. there are already no more physical events because covid. but sing lit is not ded. sing lit is online. BA has been spamming the world with ChatsActually on IG since March. average attendance for BA physical events is 15-20, and i've sat through my fair amount where there were more panelists than audience members. average ChatsActually total views is 500-600. sing lit is not ded it is just sitting at home not wearing any pants while scrolling IG.

"no more PHYSICAL events. i only believe in physical events. online views are fek views. sing lit is physically ded." - still fek news. BA is not closing its physical space, it is just moving to a new physical space that will not be open for retail. however, when regulations permit, they will continue to hold regular events, ranging from book launches, author talks, panels, down to random 24-hour bookstore nonsense where by the graveyard shift there is literally no one except the author reading to themself. so you complain for what.

"ok but no more retail store then i cannot ask the xmm for book recommendations, where got shiok" - this is partially fek news. because now you can DM the bookstore and they will happily give you book recs without you having to take bus to tiong bahru. (but only partially fek bcos cannot guarantee whether the reply is xmm or crabby beng.)

"ok but no more retail store then i cannot hear the hipster soundtrack when i choosing books, where got shiok." - this is 100% fek news, spotify exists, and i'm pretty sure the hipster soundtrack has never changed since 2010 or so. there is literally a booksactually tsukiyomi playlist on spotify, just play it when you scrolling through the webstore."

"ok but nowhere for me to take background for my instagram stories, where got shiok." - eh you shaddup la you stupid hipster. just google image search "booksactually", save the first photo, put filter, and then use as zoom background.

"ok but now i have to pay delivery fee to buy book lehhh." - ya but now you don have to take grab to fucking yong siak street which we all know is a 2 hour walk from tiong bahru mrt. and you also save $6 because you don't need to buy ice cream from creamier to cool down because you are so hot after 2h walk from mrt. anyway just buy 4 books and delivery is free what!!

"well fine maybe online store works. but BA close down because nobody reads books any more, books are ded. so its going to die anyway." - this is fek news. people are socially distanced and cannot hang out in large groups. books are extremely alive. BA sales went up by 10-20% during CB. and not just from regulars - there are new people buying. they probably live in pasir ris. congrats pasirrisians now you too can enjoy the booksactually fewlings.

"BA close down because COVID-19" - this is fek news. it seems more to me like - why would you pay premium tiong bahru rent that is only premium because it is supposed to guarantee a flow of rich hipsters/angmohs when there is no flow. why not move somewhere with cheaper rent?

"BA change business model because COVID-19" - well that sounds less fek. if you were to start a business now, would you build one that would only work in a phase 3? and try and hand-sanitiser-and-cross-off-seats until that happens? or would you take the opportunity to build one that would survive a permanent phase 2, or a phase 2 with continual reversions to phase 1 upon a second or third outbreak?

"ya lah ya lah you can say what you want lah but it's gone forever it's never going to be the same." - dude they are not bankrupt they just changed business model. if tomorrow or next year kenny wakes up and decides he wants to open a physical bookstore again, i will refer to this final caveat i inserted as a backup so this nonsense post can stand the test of time.

"ok sure. anyway you talk so much cock wtf are these stupid pictures you posted they have literally no relevance to this rubbish back-and-forth with yourself." - yeahhhh maybe i should have led with that, this is kind of confusing. so these are unpublished extracts from episode 6 of my long-dormant graphic novel, ten stories below, in which singapore is permanently underwater due to a giant flood. in this episode, BA kena water damage. some of the content has not survived very well, for which i apologise - but some of it is i guess vaguely prescient, and a snapshot of a certain time, which i offer now to the internets in memory of a place...