Independent Bookstores in Kuala Lumpur

22 June 2018

Get your next book from these new indie bookstores in Kuala Lumpur.

Your neighbourhood chain bookstore should suffice if you’re just looking for the buzziest new release, but if you’d rather have your nose in an obscure novel or talk books to people who actually know their literature, these new independent bookstores in Kuala Lumpur should have that title (and well-read expert) you’re searching for.

Whether it’s secondhand copies of books on Malay syair, curated contemporary fiction to interesting YA pickings, these spaces have them all, with a dose of warmth and personality to boot.

After tinkering with the idea of opening his own bookstore in Malaysia while studying in Melbourne, Nazir finally did so with Tintabudi in Ipoh in early 2016, but a chance opportunity cropped up and the modest bookstore switched location to The Zhongshan Building in Kuala Lumpur last year. You'll find carefully curated selections here, with vintage and secondhand gems discoursing philosophy, literature and the arts; rare restored classics are sometimes available too (keep an eye on Tintabudi’s Instagram Stories for regular stock updates).

Nazir sources most of his non-fiction abroad but is lucky enough to have people dropping by the bookstore to give away or sell their own books. He's also looking to get titles from local publishers and authors to push a more Malaysian slant.

And if you'd like a more in-depth knowledge on certain books, check out Tintabudi's fortnightly Friday book reading and group discussion, where Nazir aims to foster honest conversation through books.

Address: 80B, The Zhongshan Building, Jalan Rotan, Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur. Open Tue, Fri-Sun, 11am-7pm; Wed-Thu, 11am-8.30pm.

The Story Book
Seeing people spending more time on Facebook than actual books, as well as finding conventional bookstores lacking soul, Jeanisha Wan decided to take things into hand and open The Story Book, a small bookstore cum event space in Plaza Arkadia. "Our objective is to help people discover stories within books again – but with all their senses instead of just reading them from a book," she explains. They do this by watching, listening, participating, acting, storytelling and more; simply put, to fall in love with stories from books once more.

While The Story Book leans more to it being an event space (they hold writing workshops, storytelling and performances), they're still a bookstore, selling books from places like Bookalicious and Oyez!, catering mostly to young readers and teens. Not to worry, there’s a good selection of paperbacks for adults as well; think the latest titles from Jeffrey Archer, Mitch Albom and more.

Address: E-1-13, Plaza Arkadia, 3 Jalan Intisari Perdana, Desa Park City, 52200 Kuala Lumpur. Open Tue-Fri, 11am-7pm; Sat, 1pm-6pm.

Lit Books
When two bibliophiles fall in love and open a bookstore, it’s bound to be lit. Husband-and-wife duo Fong Min Hun and Elaine Lau were former journalists before being purveyors of good reads at Lit Books, and their status as avid readers shows; the well-considered range of fiction, non-fiction, classics, young adult novels and even illustrated children’s books are all hand-picked by them, so they’ve got a pretty encyclopaedic knowledge of what’s available in store.

The light-filled space – with a communal reading table and drinks bar hawking coffee and tea – is warm and welcoming, encouraging you to pick up a book and read it at Lit there and then. Also, Lit Books is no humdrum business venture; Fong and Lau are more concerned with helping the culture of reading in KL, quipping that conventional bookstores have failed the reading community. Hence, their dedication to reviving the reading public with planned book readings, book club gatherings and regular book reviews.

Address: P-01-11 Tropicana Avenue, 12 Jalan Persiaran Tropicana, 47410 Petaling Jaya. Open Tue, 1pm-9pm; Wed-Sun, 11am-9pm.

By Michelle Chung
Photos by Teoh Eng Hooi

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