SINGAPORE – Bookselling pioneer Basheer Ahamed, who founded the iconic Basheer Graphic Books in Bras Basah Complex, has died at the age of 83 after a fall.
“His death marks the end of an era,” said his son Abdul Nasser, 54, who runs the bookstore today. “Of all the booksellers who would carry books to the offices in the 1980s and 1990s, my father was the last one.”
Mr Basheer, who moved back to his hometown in Tamil Nadu, India, after retirement, died in December last year after a fall down the stairs. He was surrounded by his family, who were spending the holidays with him in India.
“It was very sudden,” said Mr Nasser. “He was very strong and stubborn and would ride a big motorbike even though he was 83. We thought he would live more years.”
Mr Basheer leaves behind his wife, 81, five children and 12 grandchildren.
The family held a low-profile funeral and the bookstore posted nothing on its social media. It was only when long-time customers asked Mr Nasser how his father was doing that news of his death spread.
In the 1980s, the muscular Mr Basheer would lug his wares, rare books and magazines on art, design and architecture, in heavy suitcases door to door for clients to browse.
He opened his brick-and-mortar bookstore in the early 1990s, which soon became a haven for Singapore’s design community for its selection of books and magazines not found in mainstream stores.
The bookshop has struggled in recent years, hard put to match the prices set by online sellers and forced to close outlets in Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bangkok and Malaysia.
“We just keep moving on and try to understand the needs of the new generation,” said Mr Nasser. “My father would have loved to see more years for the bookstore, to know that all his hard work has paid off.”
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