May 25 2011
While a recent post about whether Singapore is an expensive city concluded with a resounding yes, one exception is used books. The supply of used English-language books greatly outweighs the demand (thanks iPhones!) which translates to dirt-cheap prices — from S$2 a book.
While you won’t find a cheap bookstore in any of the shiny malls on Orchard Road, you don’t need to go too far out of your way to find this good deal– the best of Singapore’s used bookstores are clustered in the Bras Basah Complex near the Raffles Hotel. It seems like oddly prime real estate for just books, but this area was a traditional location for book shops and the address stuck.
By my count the Bras Basah Complex is home to at least 20 bookstores. Most sell a mix of new and used books, but my top pick for used fiction is Evernew Bookstore on the ground level where you can get 3 books for S$5. With prices that low you’d assume they’re crap books no one wants, but I’ve found everything from Kurt Vonnegut to Bill Bryson to Shakespeare in the ‘bargain bin’ and always in very good condition.
The Bras Basah bookstores also sell used children’s books, magazines, textbooks, art books, graphic novels, and travel guides. My most recent find was a used but current edition of Lonely Planet Japan for just S$19.90 – the full price was S$55!
If you need a break from the book shelves the Bras Basah Complex also has stationery stores, jewellery shops, an internet cafe, hair salons, money changers, and a cheap food court. It’s a five-minute walk from City Hall, Bugis, or Bras Basah MRT stations.
Bras Basah Complex
231 Bain Street (between Victoria Street and North Bridge Road)
Open: 10:00–21:00 (hours vary by shop)
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