Yangon’s long-standing bookshop shuts down

Once a magnet for eager bookworms, Amay Eain (Mother House) bookshop is now shuttered and dark, its shelves empty and its customers bereft. The oldest bookshop on Pansodan Road closed its doors on March 27.

Amay Eain, a sought-after and respected source of a wide variety of new and second-hand publications, opened in 1993 on Pansodan Road (lower block). In its heyday, the bookshop was much frequented by writers and poets, who would spend hours browsing the shelves amid tomes that dated back to the 1900s.
“The decline in sales is one of the factors behind the closure. People don’t read, they just play with their mobile phones,” said owner U Nyi Nyi, gazing disconsolately at the barred accordion gates.

In 1993, there was only one bookshop on Pansodan Road, which was lined with second-hand book stalls packed with readers. U Nyi Nyi and his brother decided to open a shop in their apartment, No 86, when they saw how people relished reading books.

“We stocked old and new books. Later, we stocked only new books,” U Nyi Nyi said.
Inspired by their success, Sin Taung Gyi, Yar Pyae, Pyin Nyar Shwe Taung and other outlets sprang up along the same street.

U Nyi Nyi didn’t want to talk much about the closure, which some say was related to an inheritance issue.
A sharp surge in rental costs and sagging sales have been contributing factors in the decline of the bookshop. In previous years, Sin Taung Gyi succumbed to soaring rents, while Pyin Nyar Shwe Taung was reduced to sharing space with a new art gallery a year ago. Only Yar Pyae, Sar Pae Law Ka and Innwa bookshops survive on Pansodan Road.

“Fewer and fewer readers came. I didn’t want to continue the business so we closed it,” he said.
In February he stopped ordering books and sold off all his stock. Only two plastic bags of books were left in the empty store.

“I had a great time in this bookshop. I have an attachment to books, readers and writers,” he said.
One frequent visitor was writer Khin Pan Hnin, who used to browse the shelves whenever she went downtown.
“The books I wanted to buy were often available at Amay Eain or Pyin Nyar Shwe Taung. Whenever I went downtown I would drop in,” she said, adding, “The closure of a long-running bookshop is sad news for the literary industry.”

Khin Pan Hnin said Amay Eain published books in its heyday. One of the most popular was Aung Thin’s collection of articles about literary writing.

“It’s a rare book. It helps younger people who want to write,” she said.
She said the decline in interest in books was not the only reason for the closure, since there are many bookshops still open in Yangon.

Poet Thitsar Ni, another frequent visitor, said Amay Eain bookshop was one of the earliest shops opened on Pansodan Street. Its closure was a blow to publishers and readers.

“A number of poets and writers featured the bookshop in their writing,” he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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