The “King of books" on Dinh Le Street
The collective house No. 5 Dinh Le street is known as the largest bookstore in Hanoi. Following the young people with the passion for books, I was led to a narrow alley, under the ancient tree, "kingdom of Book" of Mr. Luy and Mrs. Mao slowly appear.
The old alley led to the book store in the heart of the old quarter.
Many generations of readers in the capital still affectionately regard Mr. Luy and Mrs. Mao - owner of the bookstore is "King of books". Not only because they were the first to lay the foundations of this book street but because of their dedication and diligence which has nourishred the soul of many readers.
I talked with Mr. Le Luy in a late afternoon. Though at the age of 80 years old, the "king of book" is still lucid: "I retired in 1990, at that time the family encountered many difficulties. With a small salary amount to raise children. At that time, my wife, Pham Thi Mao also retired the publishing company. Then we decided to borrow money to sell books. The "Book Store" was originally a small trolley with few books sold in front of the Bo Ho Post Office. A few years latter, we buy a small house in the second floor at No. 5 Dinh Le and expanded the book business.
The room is overwhelmed with books, buyers have to cleverly pick up, so as to avoid from dropping them.
After drinking a cup of warm tea, he continued: "Many people wonder why we chose a deep location in this collective which is cramped and hard to find. But only my wife and I believe it is a prime location, quiet, shady but located right in the old town”.
Many cultural officials came and joked to them: "You must be the 'king' of books"
After many years of persevering selling books, the god of luck suddenly "smiled" with them. In 1996, thanks to her brilliant decision, the bookstore successfully published the book " ALMANACH- the world civilizations, earning upto 50 taels of gold. From here, Mao's bookstore expanded, buying four additional rooms next door, bringing in millions of books divided rationally.
"The book is my soul ..."
The he sadly shared that his wife passed away in the last May, after many years of disease.
Mr. Luy said: "The book is my flesh, my life so I cannot give up this career". Perhaps because of this reason, despite of his age and Parkinson's disease, he still tried and continue to sell books, handed over the knowledge to many young generations”.
The memories of his wife are carefully preserved in the old album.
Losing his partner, he can only open the store 5 days a week (instead of 7 days as before). On holidays, he spent time for store repairmen, medical examination, poetry and pleasures.
In addition, Mr. Luy also collaborated with the Ministry of Labor - Invalids and Social Affairs to spend the bookstore No. 5 (Trang Tien street) for children.
At the sunset, the bookstore close. Saying goodbye to Mr. Luy, I still keep in mind the beautiful impression of a "king of book". In the midst of the bustling time, perhaps the poetry, book and story of him will always be respected by many generations of readers.