Wan Tat Bookshop

04 2018 | Issue 26
Text/Jasper Hou

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Wan Tat has been in the business for 37 years, which is very rare in the market of Macao. For years, Wan Tat has been dedicated to exploring new business models and expanding its business to facilitate a cultural and interactive reading space for the public. Connie Yong, assistant manager of the book department at Wan Tat with over ten years of experience, believes that the success of Wan Tat is closely linked to the business philosophy and the bookstore’s quality service.


Sharing with genuine heart


Established in 1981, Wan Tat has been around for over ten years, serving the local residents in Macao. Connie is the current person in charge at the operation and management of Wan Tat’s branches in Taipa and Macao. “The bookstore’s founder kickstarted Wan Tat when he was young. Initially, the bookstore operated around the Rua do Monte, but then moved to its current location at Rua do Campo. In the past we had opened up three branches, but we only have the Rua do Campo and Taipa branches running now,” Connie said. 


Many things have changed during the business venture of Wan Tat. But what remains is the bookstore’s belief that the book selection represents the standpoint of the bookstore itself. “Books can provide people with knowledge. And we want to share them with the readers. Sometimes when we have regular customers coming in and we know their preferences, we would make recommendations to them. We feel very happy when they take our recommendations,” Connie said.


Providing more books on social issues


When Wan Tat was found, there were only a few bookstores in Macao, particularly those targeting the needs of Macao students. “In order to satisfy the demand for textbooks, Wan Tat mainly sold textbooks in the past by which we had gained certain market shares. The proportion of textbooks declined as the bookstore was in transition. As of today, sales of textbooks and workbooks consist of less than a half of our total sales,” Connie said. 


As a comprehensive bookstore today, Wan Tat touches upon every category of books. “We adjust the proportion of books on shelves by examining social trends and hot issues, and in recent years, Wan Tat focuses on books related to child’s growth and tourism culture to provide readers with cultural experience and attract more readers,” Connie said.


Investing resources to promote reading culture in Macao


When talking about the features of the branches in Rua do Campo and Taipa, Connie said: “Compared to the one in Rua do Campo, Wan Tat’s branch in Taipa can match nearby community cultures and add elements of new trends. It is more innovative and young in terms of the interior design. However, the success can hardly be achieved without the determination to do better.” 


Besides, Connie also said: “So far the bookstore will continue to use resources on improving the image of the bookstores, since we want to promote a reading culture in Macao as a whole and forge an exclusive style of our own in spatial arrangement and display of goods, so that it could resonate with targeted readers.”


Digging into cultural connotation and enhancing reading experience


Connie believes that the impingement brought by electronic books is an inevitable outcome in the light of technological advancement. “When facing the impingement, we have been seeking solutions. I believe that when customers shop in traditional bookstores, they are not only there for purchasing books, but also for enjoying the reading space there. They want to attain enjoyment through face-to-face communication. These are the things that online bookstores cannot provide,” Connie said. 


In the future, Wan Tat will pay more attention to reading experience. Connie mentioned: “For customers who like reading, we will explore more contents that are related to cultural connotations in order to shed light on the city’s culture.” In the meantime, Connie believes that bookstores are not just a platform for sharing books, but also a place where one can share products and services. Consequently, running a bookstore by diversifying merchandises and engaging in cultural diversity could be a way out for traditional bookstores. While in regard to Macao’s small-scale market and high operating cost, it is relatively hard to succeed.