Gender News in Taiwan
Feminist Bookstore Closes Doors, Aims for A Restart

【By Ling Mei-hsueh and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writer】

Fembooks, a feminist bookstore, on Thursday announced on Facebook that it would close its physical store near the National Taiwan University campus in Taipei’s Daan District next month, but will keep its publishing business running.

Citing a monthly deficit of between NT$50,000 and NT$70,000, the store said restructuring was needed before its brick-and-mortar shop could reopen.

“After we fix up our finances and elect a new manager at the July shareholders’ meeting it is possible we will reopen for business,” store manager Yang Ying-ying said in the post, adding that the company’s Web shop, blog, Facebook page and publishing operations would not be affected.

“We’ve hit bottom, but I believe a young person with new business ideas can take the business in a new direction,” Yang said.

National Taiwan University associate professor of sociology Fan Yun said she remembers the day the bookstore first opened in April 1994.

The store had a hugely positive effect on the feminist movement of the time, she said.
Fan, who rents office space in the bookstore and has produced a short film promoting it, said the closure will be difficult for her.

“The store played an important role in Taiwan’s achievements on gender equality and Taiwan becoming the first Asian nation to recognize marriage equality,” Fan said.

She said she hopes the store’s publishing business and Web shop will continue to be places where those interested in women’s issues and gender equality can choose reading materials, publish books and display their works.

More than 600 regular customers have accounts at the store in which they sometimes deposit funds, even when they are not making purchases, Yang said, adding that they can continue to access their accounts and choose books during the store’s transition.

The store also has 55 shareholders, but their investments are not large enough to offset the store’s deficit, she said, adding that the upside of not having any large private investors is that the store has not had to abandon its founders’ aspirations.

She said the store was saved from closure in 2003 after National Taiwan University urban planning professor Bih Herng-dar initiated a campaign to raise funds for it.

A campaign to save the store held last month, selling books for NT$1,000, was joined by Hong Kong English-language poet Nicholas Wong, who donated 111 signed “poetry cards” that were sold at the event, Yang said.

While the store’s earliest contributors were female writers, publishers and feminist activists, the first account belonged to a male physician from New Taipei City’s Banciao District, she said, adding that three of the store’s 55 shareholders are men.

“The store is a friendly place for everyone regardless of gender. We also have a lot of couples who come here to buy books together,” she said, adding that she hopes the store will be around for new generations of book lovers.

[Taipei Times, 2017-06-04]

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