From a humble beginning as a small bookshop selling general titles, MPH Bookstores has since progressed and grown to become one the leading bookstore chains in Malaysia.
Being a pioneer in the book retail business, the brand MPH has become a well-loved and treasured household name in the country. We were the first book retailer to introduce a megastore concept in Malaysia with the opening of MPH Mid Valley in the year 2000, where shoppers were introduced to services and facilities such as self-search terminals, internet kiosks, reading lounges, a kids’ corner and a full-fledge customer service.
In the early 2000, we embarked on our journey into the e-commerce world by launching our very own e-commerce store, MPHOnline.com. Being the first book retailer in Malaysia to venture into the e-commerce business, MPHOnline.com’s vision of creating a borderless, online bookstore has allowed us to reach customers in places where we had no physical presence. Since then, MPHOnline.com has succeeded in delivering the retail experience right to the doorsteps of customers, fulfilling the need for convenience, speed, efficiency and reliability of our services.
Fast forward to today, MPH continues to bring innovation to book retailing in the digital age by establishing more touch points to connect with our customers through physical and online stores, vending business and soon mobile applications. With the advent of technology today, we aim to adopt an omnichannel retailing approach to provide our customers with a seamless shopping experience.
A PASSAGE THROUGH TIME - A BRIEF HISTORY OF MPH
That a brief history of MPH should start with a missionary may seem strange, but it sets the motion to the train of events, that, eventually led to the establishment of MPH.
In 1807, Robert Morrison was the first Protestant missionary sent by the London Missionary Society to work in China. He translated the New Testament and Old Testament into Chinese with the help of an eager young missionary, William Milne. After being in Macau for two years, Milne chose to set up a printing press in Malacca in 1815. Among his achievements in his first few years there were to start up the Malacca Anglo-Chinese College and print the first Chinese edition of the Old Testament.
In 1890, Captain W.G. Shellabear arrived in Singapore to establish a printing press known as the Amelia Bishop Press. The aim of the publishing venture was the printing of Christian literature, and eventually, the setting and printing of secular work was taken up.
Amelia Bishop Press moved to Raffles Place in 1893 and changed its name to the American Mission Press. The Book Room was established to sell publications of the Mission Press, school books and other supplies for the Mission’s schools.
Shellabear is recognised as the founder of the Malaya Publishing House whose far sightedness in bringing modern printing techniques to Singapore contributed to the growth of the Southeast Asian publishing industry. Methodist Christians know him as one of the founders and early leaders of Methodism in Malaya, and as a translator of the Bible and many other religious texts into Malay. Among old Malay classics reprinted by Shellabear include Sejarah Melayu and Hikayat Abdullah.
In 1900, Rev. William T. Cherry arrived and helped turn the foundations built by Shellabear into a multi-faceted organisation - printing, publishing, bookselling, and book distribution. The American Mission Press changed name to the Methodist Publishing House in 1906, from which the acronym MPH was derived. It was in 1908 that the Methodist Publishing House moved into its new building at the corner of Stamford Road and Armenian Street. The company became a public stock company in 1927 with an experienced Board of Directors and the Publishing House was officially incorporated as Malaya Publishing House Limited.
In 1928, Frank Cooper Sands became the Managing Director of the new Malaya Publishing House. The company was carrying on its business as ‘proprietors and publishers of and dealers in newspapers, journals, magazines, books and other literary works and undertakings.’ Frank Sands reopened the publishing house in 1945 after the Japanese occupation, which left most of the printing equipment removed or destroyed, and the building on Stamford Road badly deteriorated.
In 1963 the Malaya Publishing House changed its name to Malaysia Publishing House and began operating as a wholesale book department. The retail side, under the name of Malaysian Books Limited, had new bookstores opening at Selangor Mansion in Kuala Lumpur, Beach Street in Penang and at Jalan Laksamana in Malacca. At Stamford Road, the ground floor was turned to general bookselling.
1966 saw the Malaysia Publishing House failing financially. The company was bought over and set up under a consortium headed by Masagung, a sixth-generation Chinese Indonesian. Under the new management, there were 4 subsidiaries: MPH Books, MPH Printers, MPH Publications & Lian Tak MPH (producing exercise books & paper products). Despite its problems in the 1960s, the company continued to publish a range of old and new titles.
In 1972, Jack Chia Holdings (Hong Kong) bought over MPH. As Jack Chia-MPH Limited, its various subsidiaries were divided into the Books and Publications Division, the Consumer Products Division, the Timber Division, the Hotel Division and the Services Division. The Books and Publications Division took on new activities like publication of magazines.
The company was publicly listed and bought over in 1999 by Singaporean entrepreneur Simon Cheong and changed its name to MPH Ltd in March 2000.
In 2002, the MPH brand with its book retail and book distribution arm, MPH Bookstores and MPH Distributors respectively, was bought over by Jalinan Inspirasi Sdn Bhd, a company owned by a Malaysian business tycoon. The company later changed its name to MPH Group (M) Sdn Bhd.
Today MPH Group is the parent company that owns MPH Bookstores (Malaysia), MPH Distributors (Malaysia & Singapore) and MPH Library Services (Singapore).