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May 2023
Issue No. 314

St John’s Cathedral Bookstore – History (Now & Then)


In 1979, Sue Martin started with a Book Table at the Cathedral. Jay Green arrived in Hong Kong in 1982, and having run a book table in her church in the UK, offered her time to help at the Book Table in the Old Hall (now Li Hall) after the main service at St John’s. Jay Green and Wendy Larkin took over the management of the Book Table later, and they started to source Christian books from the UK. The bookstore was probably one of the very first retailers of Christianity books in Hong Kong that sourced particularly from UK publishers. Later, the Bookstore recruited several volunteers, one of them being Alice Inglis, who still volunteers to this day! The next move was to employ Vanda Cole as our manager, who started in the summer of 1991. 

Our current Manager, Sandy Villamil, who is also the Chairlady of Christian Booksellers Association of Hong Kong, is our fourth successor after Vanda, Mary Heigh and Chris Everett. Sandy is the first manageress who knows English, Chinese, Putonghua and bits of Tagalog. To expand the business and presence of the Bookstore, Sandy took it upon herself to stock the bookstore with not only English titles, but also those written in Traditional and Simplified Chinese, so that visitors and tourists from other countries can all enjoy the books on offer. Sandy also reached out to suppliers in the same industry, and sourced a variety of Christian gifts. On offer also are Bibles in diverse languages. Our other full-time assistant manageress Kendy Chau is also the first Chinese lady employed by the bookstore, and she has sourced for us a wide selection of gift items, catering to different customers’ needs.

Though our name says that we are a Bookstore, our mission is to Welcome, Nurture, and Inform members of our church and community. 

In effect, we serve as the welcoming and visitors’ center for many who come to the Cathedral: For some, we are the first stop in their hunt to find one of the other Cathedral’s ministries; for others, the first stop in tracking down their family histories; and for a few people who need someone to talk to, we offer an attentive ear. Prior to the COVID, we had nearly 100,000 visitors to our shop each year. We open 363 days all year round except for two days due to stock-taking. You can imagine how many visitors and enquiries we have been handling with.

Souvenirs Designed & Produced by The Bookstore for The Cathedral 

The bookstore currently has 1,225 book titles on the shelf. We are reducing the overall number of titles in the store from 1,800 titles in the past not only because of the COVID’s impact, but also by clearing certain titles on our backlog in stock with discounts. We keep on introducing new titles in the Bookstore and also accept pre-orders of other unavailable titles. We have also significantly expanded the range of our non-book products over the years to cater to changing customers’ needs.




<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 314. Please click here>


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