Think Before You Throw

Hands playing five stones
Five stones by Wai Han, hands from Bee Yan

This year, I got Five Stones at our team’s end-of-year gift exchange; the set of stones was part of a gift set, alongside mosquito patches, costume jewellery, and a notebook. My creative and wacky colleagues (Wai Han and Hoe Fang) had imbued each item with a specific intent.

The Five Stones were meant for my amusement – this was a game I had watched more than played as a child. Then, I understood that boys played certain games, and Five Stones was not one of them. That understanding, coupled with hands that never had a chance at practice, meant that I continued watching rather than exercising my hands.

For myself, as well as for others who have experienced constraints due to societal habits, the chance to play the games we wish to play and do the things we wish to do can come only when we manage to slough off previously held assumptions. We need to convince ourselves before we can convince others.

At the turn of this year, faced with the potential of rejuvenation and renewal, it would do to develop our art of throwing.


Three weeks ago, aided by the expertise of the good people of Currency Design, the Ethos team relaunched our new logo. This was not a simple act of throwing. The black fan-shaped logo had been with us for twenty-four years; thoughts of changing it had to overcome the barriers of familiarity and loyalty. Would we alienate readers who have grown accustomed to the logo that represented a book being flipped, even ourselves? And if we should change, what should we retain? The new logo must convey our steadfastness to the same principles that found our company.

The tangerine and teal thumb/head-shaped logo highlights the inclusiveness and diversity that we have come to and continue to publish, and if you look closer into its multi-faceted expression, it incorporates the fan-shaped logo, our past that is integral to who we are today.

When I hold the Five Stones in my hand, I am revisited by scenes of my mother and her sisters playing Five Stones in my grandmother’s home, as adults, during our annual Chinese New Year return to her Malaysia home. More than memory, the value of old things resides in what we continue to make of them.

In this new year, may we continue to honour the things that have made us who we are, as well as muster the necessary courage to throw away what is no longer relevant.

With best wishes for the new year,
Kah Gay
Publisher, Ethos Books and Pagesetters

(From December 25, 2021)

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