One of the curious anomalies about Kuala Lumpur is that while it is one of the best places in Southeast Asia to buy books, you hardly ever see anyone reading in public. I am beginning to think that every KL home is littered with stacks of unread tomes. Or perhaps I am committing some awful social faux pas by reading in public. Whichever way, enough book-buying takes place KL to sustain a number of thriving stores. And this is great news for visitors and locals alike.
The best store in Kuala Lumpur, and quite possibly the whole of Asia, is Kinokuniya in Suria KLCC shopping centre. The largest proportion of its stock is English language fiction and non-fiction, but it also has an impressive range of Japanese and Chinese language books. Size is not everything though, and where Kinokuniya really makes its mark is in the quality of its stock. It should be every book-lover’s first stop in KL.
Despite much discounting, the prices at Kinokuniya will still strike many European and North American visitors as on the high side. Books have always been expensive in Malaysia, but the appreciation of the ringgit over recent years has made the situation even worse. So, it is a relief that KL has a sprinkling of excellent discount book shops.
The best of the bunch is BookXcess, which adds helpful staff and a well-organised layout to its bargain basement prices. Although it has a small amount of dross, the majority of its stock is of a surprisingly high standard. Located near to Taman Jaya LRT station, it’s an easy journey from central KL.
KL also has a number of outlets from three different chains: Times, MPH and Borders. They fall short of the high standards set by Kinokuniya, in terms of both quality and quantity, but still do a reasonable job. All three have convenient outlets in popular Bukit Bintang shopping centres: Times in Pavilion, MPH in BB Plaza, and Borders in Berjaya Times Square.
6-8, 29 & 30, Level 4, Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
T: (03) 2164 8133
60, Level 3, Amcorp Mall, 18 Jalan Persiaran Barat, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
T: (03) 7956 0455
49, Level 6, Pavilion, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2148 8813
2, Ground Floor, BB Plaza, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2142 8231
11-13, Lower Ground Floor, Berjaya Times Square, 1 Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2117 3111
By Pat Fama
Last updated on 3rd September, 2014.