Popular Book Company was set up in Singapore in the 1920s along North Bridge Road. It started selling Chinese books and diversified into English titles, stationery and educational materials. In 1988, it held a logo design contest, offering S$3,000 as its cash prize. The criteria was for a logo that looked "corporate", "dynamic", "up-to-date" and only 2 colours should be used.
Then architecture student Lai Chee Kien won with this abstract design inspired by the bookstore's Chinese name. It expresses the graphic Chinese character “人群” (crowd) in red, which was part of the store’s name in simplified Chinese. The final design comprises three “人” (persons), and also resembles three books opened and stacked atop one another — a place where books and people converged.