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MY HANOICULTURE

Touching story about the "queen" of Hanoi old book street

Updated at Thursday, 01 Jun 2017, 14:58
The Hanoitimes - The woman spending her whole life for books, the "Spirit" of the more-than-20-year-old book street in Hanoi
Dinh Le street lies quitely nearby Hoan Kiem Lake. It's known for a long time as a heaven for book lovers in Hanoi. Covering the street is tens of bookstores with price lower than in  market price and in numerous categories.
But the story behind the street face even more interesting.  A friend of mine take me to the street, go upstair in a long small alley and a striking scence unhided: a small "library" lies on the second floor of the ancient house. That's the "nest" of the "Founder" of the book street - Mrs Mao.
Mrs. Mao - the "Spirit" of Dinh Le Street
Mrs. Mao - the "Spirit" of Dinh Le Street
They call her "Spirit" of Dinh Le Street, who earned 50 taels of gold from books has come to another world. The woman spending her whole life for books, the "Spirit" of Dinh Le book street, who bet her career and fortune to borrow money for books and earned from it 50 taels of gold, has come to another world. 
Dinh Le Street - cultural and intellectual space of Hanoians for more than 20 years. This charming cultural space was started from a cart containing 20 books of Mr. Le Luy and Mrs. Pham Thi Mao nearby Hoa Phong tower. In 1990, Mr. Le Luy retired. Soon after, his wife, Mrs. Pham Thi Mao, left her book publishing company for retirement. With the experience of book selection and career relationships, the couple decided to borrow a cart and start a new career: selling books at Hoa Phong Tower. Mrs. Mao - the "Spirit" of Dinh Le Street. Later, due to available acquaintance, they sold book by a small table near the Hanoi Post office. They had only few books but sold like hot cakes. Three years latter, they bought a house at No. 5, Dinh Le Street after selling the old house in Ngu Xa to open bookstore. The small bookstore is deep in the alley, so he still had to sit on the sidewalk to introduce to customers gradually. At that time, the street had only their store and the first two private bookstores in Hanoi. Only with a small table and dozens of books, but their store could sell as many book as the other two stores because of the resonable price and interesting books. Her whole life is attached to the repository of human knowledge. When the shoppers were familiar, the good news far away, their bookstore became well-known. In the evening, they spreaded a sedge mat on the sidewalk to sell books. Many others copied their selling models, making Dinh Le become the most bustling "night book street" in Hanoi. In 2000 - 2001, as books were prohibited to be sold on the sidewalk, people rented out shops for sale. Dinh Le street become bookstreet. Mrs. Mao did not only "create" the Hanoi's most unique bookstreet, but also evaluated, searched for qualified books for sale as well as introduced them to readers. She even went abroad to find good books. For more than 20 years, they have also translated and published more than 500 books.
A corner of the bookstore - the most valuable treasures of Mr. Luy and Mrs. Mao.
A corner of the bookstore - the most valuable treasures of Mr. Luy and Mrs. Mao.

The most famous, miracle book that had brought her whealthy is the ALMANACH- the world civilizations. With a 2,000-page thickness, compiled by many great authors in the world, the book "Almanac – the World Civilizations" is a huge intellectual repository of many aspects. However, the high price makes it impossible for any publisher to print. Recognizing the invaluable value of the book, they decided to borrow 35 million VND - equivalent to 10 taels of gold at that time to obtain the permit to publish and print. The “magic” book brought Mrs. Mao 50 taels of gold. (Photo by Vu Thuy Hoa) From the first printing time to five years latter (from 1995 to 2000), 22,000 books were sold out.
Thanks to that “magic” book, they could buy the house next door, then the remaining 5 other houses. Mrs. Mao once said, for each square meter of floor, she bought for 1 tael of gold, equivalent to 5 million VND, the amount of cash to buy a 200m2 house is about 1 billion VND. The profit from books during 5 years is up to 2-3 billion VND, equivalent to 50 taels of gold at that time. She was devoted to books on Dinh Le Street, the house No. 5 has been attached to her whole career after the catastrophe. And then on the morning of May 30, residents in the street shocked to hear that she has left her dream, leaving the book industry to go to another place. She left the world, leaving the unfinished project... (Photo: Vu Thuy Hoa). Dinh Le- Nguyen Xi bookstreet lost the originated.” 
The chair that Mrs Mao used to sit...
The chair that Mrs Mao used to sit...
The book lovers has shown their regret to Mrs. Mao, the "Spirit" of Dinh Le Street. But like Ms. Hoa, they believe, in another world, she will still spend a great passion for books and will create such an intellectual space to continue her unfinished projects in this world.
Tu Anh
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