Independent bookstores play an important role in expanding the public’s ability to appreciate art and literature, Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said earlier this week, urging more people to open bookstores around the nation.
Bookstores sow the seeds of reading and art appreciation, but 60 percent of towns, cities and districts do not even have one, Lung said during an event in Taipei in which several independent bookstore owners who have received subsidies from the Ministry of Culture to open their stores talked about their experiences.
Lin Yu-chien (林渝阡), owner of a bookstore in Yukuo Village (雨果村) in Hualien County, said that while much is said about declining numbers of independent bookstores, her village had never had one.
She said she wanted to open one to raise an appreciation for arts and culture among the villagers. Her store also sells local arts and crafts and guidebooks to help tourists learn more about the village, Lin said.
Chiang Ting-yun (蔣婷韻), owner of Dorothy Bookstore in Greater Taichung, said her shop has become a popular place for local children as she selects quality children’s books and organizes story-telling events.
Meanwhile, Hung Yu-sui (洪毓穗), who runs the Lifestyle Bookstore in Taoyuan with her husband, sells mostly lifestyle and travel books.
The store originally targeted tourists, but the main customers turned out to be locals, Hung said, adding that some local residents visit the bookstore every day because they do not want it to close.
The ministry launched its subsidy policy earlier this year, offering NT$500,000 to young people willing to return to their hometowns to start cultural and creative businesses.