Q1-1: What inspired you to open a bookstore?
Emily： On March 11th, 2012, an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan. At that instance, I was reminded that nothing is permanent in life. I was living in another city, and had not gone back to my hometown to do the things I wanted to. I was engaged in real estate copy and planning back then, writing descriptions like “exclusive park view with blue sky and fluffy white clouds as your neighbors”. So I figured, it’s now or never. It is unnecessary to wait until I have enough savings, and there’s no such thing as having enough savings working in Taipei so, I decided to come home, come back to Changhua, to enjoy the natural countryside where I have farms right at the side of my house, blue sky right there whenever I look up.
Q1-2: Were you going to open a store when you first came back to Changhua?
Emily：At first, there was no such plan as becoming a store owner. I worked at a publisher in Taichung, mainly in charge of e-book planning and editing. Later on I had the chance to participate in courses arranged by Lai Ho Foundation. As I got to know about the history of Changhua, the idea of conducting a field research on old bookstores grew. Gradually, I started to think about what Changhua needs, and began to see the possibility of me being an entrepreneur.
Q1-3: Why did you choose to locate your bookstore on Chengzhong Street?
Emily： I was looking for a spot that is within walking distance from the train station. I would like my customers to walk to the bookstore. The walk calms the state of mind, which is an excellent prelude to entering the bookstore. Chengzhong Street left quite an impressive on me with the culvert on Zhonghua Road as its entrance. Plus, there is already Biking16 Cafe there as my neighbor, so I think this location is a quiet spot among the city hustle and bustle with really good vibes.
Q2: What book categories do you select for the bookstore?
Emily： The main selections are Taiwanese literature, social science and women’s writing.
Taiwanese literature includes history, contemporary literature and modern poetry. Due to my acquaintance with Lai Ho Foundation, I have read Lai Ho’s literature, and learn about the Taiwanese Cultural Association and the development of literature in Changhua. Literary books are like the foundation of our land. By getting to know the basis, we can make more sense of what it’s like now.
Books about social science is a branch that derives from Taiwanese literature, which includes socialism, neighborhood development, etc. My bookstore is a platform that brings together people who care deeply about the development of our society and neighborhood. Furthermore, the book clubs I host in the bookstore integrate the energy of the minds.
Women’s writing includes history of women, female characters, gender issues, women rights issue, etc. My interest and concern in this area has to do with me growing up in Changhua. Since I was a student until now, Changhua has been a relatively conservative place in my perspective. However, from a historical viewpoint, there was the establishment of women’s association in Changhua during Japanese colonization. The association brought up several discussions specifically about women. For instance, women could train themselves for better physical capability, and men could learn sewing and tailoring. By bringing up these issues, exchanges and understanding are encouraged.
Q3. Did you encounter anything interesting in your bookstore?
Emily：Last year I hosted the Taiwan European Film Festival in my bookstore and one customer left a water bottle forgotten. I posted a message along with a poem on Text Apartment’s fan page on Facebook only to seek for its owner. Later on the owner retrieved the bottle, and I got to know a customer who writes poetry, and was recommended with a variety of poems which enhance my knowledge on poetry. This encounter made me realize that I can learn from the readers, and it adds to my personal as well as my bookstore’s development.
Q4. Did the bookstore bring any changes to your life?
Emily：My life is totally different now. I used to think that coming back to Changhua means more time spent with my family. Yet as my working hours in the bookstore prolong, I find myself hardly able to roam along the riverbank, or enjoy the scenery of farmlands.
Q5. What suggestion would you like to give if someone wants to open a store in Chengzhong Street?
Emily：This is a place of positive energy. It allows you to exist in a tiny sense.
Towards the end of the interview, Emily mentioned that during the Japanese colonial rule, there were numerous printing enterprises and bookstores in Changhua, which played a phenomenal role in spreading ideas in central Taiwan. You can still see the Da Chao She Bookstore on Heping Road that was preserved from then. Once the bookstore is more stable and well-established, she would like to visit all old bookstores in Changhua and record the history of Changhua’s bookstores.
Hung Si Xian, Text Apartment’s Chinese name, red silk thread in translation, stands for weaving, sewing and linkage, too. Books, Emily, and the bookstore, the three of them form a web. We now have this bookstore in Changhua, and we can visit both Biking16 Cafe and Text Apartment Bookstore on Chengzhong Street. Text weaves the connection between people. It also stitches to make up what we lack and links
No.20, Chengzhong St., Changhua City, Changhua County 500, Taiwan