A MEGA bookstore has opened in Singapore, albeit for 10 days only.
BookFest@Singapore, an extravaganza of books, stationery and IT products organised by bookstore chain Popular, was launched yesterday at Suntec Singapore.
And unlike other fairs, where booksellers take up booths, the 120,000 sq ft exhibition space - three times the size of Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City - was laid out like a bookstore.
There were sections for fiction, children's books, self-help books and other genres.
Last night's opening was graced by Minister for Information, Communications and The Arts Lee Boon Yang.
Last year's inaugural event focused on Chinese books, but there are more English ones this time. They take up about a quarter of the exhibition space, three times more than last year.
Mr Chou Cheng Ngok, 70, chairman and managing director of Popular, said: 'The Singapore public is still not prepared to accept that Popular sells English books. This is a good opportunity for us to make an impression and to change their thinking.'
Harris, Popular's English book chain, takes up a third of the space allotted for English books.
But Chinese book lovers will still be able to browse the 35,000 titles, up from 20,000 plus titles last year.
Dr Lee praised the Singapore fair as a 'positive and innovative step that will create business opportunities and contribute to Singapore's publishing industry'.
He said: 'Today we are witnessing growing interest in Chinese language and culture in many countries. The proliferation of successful Chinese cultural exports such as films has also contributed to growing demand for Chinese media content.
'Singapore is in a vantage position to leverage on this growing interest - both as a gateway for the distribution of Chinese language books to the international market, as well as the contact point for international publishers seeking to do publishing business with China.'
Indeed, Mr Chou has set his sights on creating a BookFest in Taiwan, after the success of the Singapore and Kuala Lumpur fairs.
More than 320,000 people visited last year's fair, and 500,000 are expected this time.
BookFest@Singapore is at Suntec Hall 401 to 404, from today till Dec 23. Admission is free and the fair will be on from 10am to 10pm daily.