Thursday, September 4, 2008
Book Lovers' Heaven
Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan
For book lovers, a library or a book store of any kinds is their heaven.
You might wonder if Bandung's people love books. Well, frankly speaking, I don't have the number to tell you with a great degree of certainty that they do (or don't). But as a book lover myself, I can tell you that a book store like the one in the above photo seems to be a favorite place to many people here, especially on weekends. They don't necessarily buy books there, but they do browse and read, which I think is good.
There are a good number of big book stores in Bandung, but there aren't many big players. These big book stores belong to the big players in Indonesia's book markets. Two chains are particularly dominant: Gramedia and Gunung Agung. You can go to any big cities in Indonesia and, when it comes to finding a good book store, chances are you'd find these two names in their major shopping malls and supermarkets. I think the situation is similar to the US where, to my experience, two particular "big guys" can be found in almost any cities.
With their "gigantic" size, these two book store chains (Gramedia and Gunung Agung) have their own advantage: They carry more books and titles (which is important for customers who don't want to go from store to store just to find what they need/want).
Anyway, as I said in one of my previous posts, Bandung also has a number of great petite book stores. These smaller book stores usually carry books in specialized topics and interests (cultural studies, religions, engineering, etc.). Some of them are even designed more as a home's cozy library or reading room than a book store. Then, as I also mentioned in a couple of my previous posts, there are also a number of street-side (used) book and magazine vendors, and at least one special book market where small book stores are gathered in one place (I'll cover that next time).
So, do Bandung people love books? I think they do. Otherwise these book stores and markets would not have thrived.