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Jakarta Post

Weekly 5: Five second-hand book haunts

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

  /   Fri, September 12, 2014   /  11:30 am
Weekly 5: Five second-hand book haunts

JP/Ricky Yudhistira

Books, especially imported ones, are still very expensive in Indonesia. Those who cannot afford new books have an alternative to buy second-hand ones. Here are five popular spots to get second-hand books.

Senen Market

Jakarta used to have a big book center in Kwitang, Central Jakarta. However, because most of the stalls took up space along the Jl. Kwitang sidewalk, the city administration relocated the booksellers in 2008 to other sites, including the nearby Senen market.

Senen Market is now arguably the largest book center in Jakarta, as most of the booksellers from Kwitang moved to the third floor of the market.

Entering the kiosks, customers are spoiled with the service offered by the vendors. They usually remember titles well, especially best sellers.

Collections in these kiosks range from brand-new books all the way down to dog-eared used books.

Kardi, a 44-year-old kiosk owner, said he sold both new and second-hand books to cater to more customers. '€œNone of the books have fixed prices, so people can feel free to bargain,'€ he said.

Kardi said most of her customers were college students and professionals who were looking for good-value books.

Shopping centers

In among the array of fancy fashion stores and gadget emporiums, a number of malls and shopping centers also cater to book lovers with stores selling second-hand books.

They include Blok M Square and Plaza Festival (formerly Pasar Festival) in South Jakarta, and Plaza Semanggi in Central Jakarta.

One of the stores in Plaza Festival, called Gudang Buku, features a vast collection of comics, novels, magazines and books on traveling, economics, history, politics and many other subjects. They also stock English-language children'€™s books at reasonable prices.

Another place to hunt for old books is Plaza Semanggi. The second floor of the mall'€™s B block is a haven for book lovers with several small bookstores '€” Pluz+, Pasar Buku Langka, Untung and Kalyana.

Book café

If Yogyakarta has Sosrowijayan and Bali has Kuta for traveling book lovers, Jakarta has Jl. Jaksa in Central Jakarta.

Unfortunately, Jl. Jaksa only has one bookstore remaining now, which is located inside the Memories Café. Although the store has only one shelf of books, the collection is varied and the books come in a variety of languages, including English, Dutch and French.

Most of the books are popular novels by authors such as Sophie Kinsella and Stephenie Meyer, but if you diligently comb the entire shelf'€™s contents, you can find classic literary works, like James Joyce'€™s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man or Walt Whitman'€™s Leaves of Grass.

Garage sales and bazaarS

If trawling round shops one by one seems too much like hard work, Jakartans can attend annual events like park bazaars, the Jakarta Book Fair and book sales. The only requirement is to be diligent in monitoring information about each event.

The Jakarta Book Fair is usually held each year in June or July. Although most of the vendors at the fair sell new books, you can still find a number of second-hand books on offer.

Twenty-eight-year-old Ayulia, who is a regular visitor to the fair, said the event gave her the opportunity to search for books she had long wanted to find. '€œI usually crave a number of books but I cannot afford new ones because they are too expensive,'€ she said.

Ayulia said the price of the second-hand books, especially rarer titles, could also be expensive. '€œThe key is to bargain,'€ she said.

Besides the book fair, the capital also plays host to a second-hand book bazaar run by volunteer organization, Drive Books not Cars. The organization has held the bazaar twice on car free days on Jl. Sudirman, Central Jakarta.

The books at the bazaar are mostly in mint condition, while the money raised from sales support good causes, such as building a children'€™s library.

TIM arts center

After enjoying a cultural performance at the Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) arts center in Central Jakarta, visitors can pop into a book gallery in the complex, called the Bengkel Deklamasi.

Bengkel Deklamasi, which was established in 1996 by Jose Rizal Manua, a lecturer at the Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ), sells thousands of rare, classic books, including Indonesian classics such as Sengsara Membawa Nikmat by Tulis St. Sati and Siti Nurbaya by Marah Rusli.

The shop is especially popular among high school and college students.