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.


Laurie said...

I love all kinds of bookstores. They are my weakness. My mother always let me pick out a new book when we went to a bookstore, and I was addicted to the library. WHen I had very little money in my early 20s, I always budgeted for trips to a wonderful half-priced book store. I could lose a whole afternoon in a good book store.

Mo said...

If I had to name the one thing I loved above all others about London. It would have to be the book shops. This is paradise for book lovers. There is a specialty bookshop for everything. Some of the bigger shops have wonderful comfortable chairs for you to sit in while you browse(read).

Hendrawan said...

in Riau the heaven is also Gramedia book store..

mas Eki menampilkan theme itu boleh di pertengahan bulan ya?

Rambling Woods said...

The small book stores here have been forced out of business by the large chains that offer cheaper prices. It is a shame as you have said, there are special things that a small store may provide..


Firstly, thanks for dropping by at Kuching Klikz. In Kuching the biggest book chain is the MPH Bookstore which is also represented in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. My wife knows my weakness and would normally direct me to a bookshop in a shopping mall while she disappears to do her shopping.

Hilda said...

Ooh, heaven is right! Like Laurie, I love all kinds of bookstores too. My husband and I can't seem to go out without having to pass by a bookstore, any bookstore!

D.C. Confidential said...

There's nothing better than a good book! Libraries and bookstores are two of my favorite places.

Nice picture!

babooshka said...

I too would call this place Paradise.
Have you seen the Ebook. It's afun idea, but nothing will persuade me to
part with my books, or add to them. Cery nice lighting in this hot. Indoor lightening can be so harsh and fuzzy, but this has a nice warm clear glow.

Saut said...

when I was in Bandung. I used to come quite often to Book Shop like Gramedia or Gunung Agung (those two used to be nearby, I don't know for now). I went there "only for searching". If I wanna buy a book, I will go to Palasari or Pasar Suci, where there discounts.

Ps: haturnuhun buat websitenya Kang Eki. Rindu saya ke Bandung bisa dipuaskan dengan foto2x dan cerita di blog ini. Kebetulan dulu sempat 8 tahun di Bandung, jadi ya feeling home selalu ada ketika kembali ke sana.