This article first appeared in Options, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on December 7, 2020 - December 13, 2020
Free to decide her future, Mercy Wu chose to steer the book business set up by her father in 1989, confident that the spirit of Eslite would prevail in every store
It is the kind of story that keeps you turning the page. “My father established Eslite Bookstore after a heart operation. The surgery was like a rebirth for him,” says Mercy Wu. “At that time, he had made money from real estate, and he thought God wouldn’t give him some money for no reason.”
The double blessing of health and wealth moved Robert Wu Ching-yu to do something good in return. As books and philosophy had always been important to him, he sought to find a way to approach people through literature, aesthetics and the arts. Eslite, set up in Taipei in 1989, would serve as the channel. “It is not only a bookstore, but also a place to settle the mind and body,” the founder said on its website.
His vision resonated with readers, who flocked to Eslite’s Dunnan store in Xinyi district, which became a hub of cultural and creative labels from Taiwan and abroad. More outlets opened up across the country as the company expanded into Hong Kong, China and Japan. It also established other businesses under the same brand, keeping to the fusion retail model of commerce embedded in culture, with books integral to what they offer.
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