Finding a good bookstore in Kuwait is difficult, so when we found one with a wide selection and a cause, it was like hitting the jackpot.
Four days before Q8 Books’ grand re-opening, its new owner, Fajer Ahmed, and a group of four young friends, shelved books, put together the final pieces of wall art, and put the final touches on the store’s renovations. These are the final actions of a project to revive Kuwait’s only dedicated used bookstore, and it looks like it will be a smashing success.
Fajer became the new owner of Kuwait’s only dedicated used bookstore when she purchased the titles from store’s previous owner, Mr. Jacobs, and gave him the promise to create a much bigger project.
“He wanted it to grow into a space where young locals would be managing it and benefiting from it. He believed that I was the right person for this task, as a humble reader and someone with good social connections.”
Q8 Books started almost ten years ago with only 10 titles. It grew exponentially and became a recluse for many in Kuwait who wanted a homey place to curl up with a good book, or a good selection of affordable titles. In June, it closed its doors in Salihya, news that was met with disappointment by many bloggers and social media commentators.
Fajer, a law student and legal contributor to the blog 248AM run by Mark Makhoul, was captivated by the original vision of an escape where people were free to discuss ideas and literature. She knew she wanted to take the idea a few steps further, but she had to find a venue for the 15,000 titles she now owned. Many proposals later, she was contacted by Bayt Lothan, the arts and culture hub near Marina Mall, who offered a free space for the project.
“What followed next was the end of ‘I’ and the beginning of ‘we’,” said Fajer.
She enlisted the help of young volunteers to completely renovate the space. Cement was laid, the floors waxed, shelves hung on the wall and books arranged by genre and in alphabetical order. Artists from the community contributed pieces, and the guys from Monstariam painted a mural in the outside seating area. They created a book haven in the midst of the desert, “and it will only get better,” she says.
It’s that sense of community that the founder of the original Q8 Books hoped to create, and Fajer aimed to foster. Beanbags and sofas in the bookstore are available for book and writing clubs to meet, and her team will offer workshops for younger audiences. She has even created a program to send books to Gambia.
If you want to immerse yourself in Tolkien’s fantasy world or find yourself in Malcolm Gladwell’s self-discovery advice, Q8 Books is the place to be. With titles ranging from less than 1KD to 4 KD, the expansive world of literature is now at your fingertips in Q8 Books.
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