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    A Legacy of Knowledge By Ruth Cao 文:曹蓉   “知识书店”退场亦留痕 A veritable castle of books, Knowledge Book Centre has reached remarkable heights in its half-century history. 店主坚守近半世纪的书业城堡,让新加坡的“知识书店”达到一方杰灵的高度。 Chou Sing Chu Foundation’s office is located in Bras Basah Complex in Singapore, an old-style building for both commercial and residential purposes sometimes also called the City of Books. Bras Basah Complex’s Chinese name literally means “hundred victories”, directly addressing the Chinese word for books being a homonym for “losing”. Built in 1980 along North Bridge Road, a book district then, its appearance changed the bookstore industry in Singapore. Some bookstores remained, moving into the new building and upgrading their premises, including POPULAR’s iconic flagship store. Others moved elsewhere, and some disappeared. In the half century since, time seems to have slowed down here – even as high-rise numerous buildings have sprung up around it, the City of Books remains unchanging. There are three distinctive second- hand bookstores in Bras Basah Complex today. Each time I pass by these stores, their doors are always open welcomingly. Over time I have taken their presence for granted. By the time you read this, however, our old neighbour on the third floor Knowledge Book Centre would have already shuttered its doors in July 2022 due to declining business. Many businesses pulled out due to the adverse impact of the pandemic, but I am particularly saddened about the loss of Knowledge Book Centre, as it has long been a part of this place. A Castle of Books Established in 1975, Knowledge Book Centre has been in Bras Basah Complex since 1981. According to current owner Mohamed Ismail, 69, this 1,200-square- foot second-hand bookstore once had 10 employees during its peak in the late 20th century, with a monthly revenue of up to S$40,000. At the time, about 100,000 second-hand books filled the store in stacks across the floor and shelves, much like a castle of books, an enviable scene for the book industry of today. A diverse range of educational books for primary school to university levels and reference books for a wide array of languages make up most of Knowledge Book Centre’s inventory. Occasionally, you also find out-of-print or 12 - popularnews 141 

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