Photo: Just eat.

Gerakbudaya Bookshop

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Before May 2014, Georgetown lacked one thing: an independent bookshop. Of course, secondhand bookshops and branches of bigger chains existed but a bookshop with a collection covering current affairs, politics, contemporary fiction and poetry, with an international and local focus, selected with passion and expertise?

Feast your eyes on the handsome new arrivals.

Feast your eyes on the handsome new arrivals.

It was something that Gareth Richards longed to remedy, so when a shop space below his editorial offices became available, despite the barrage of well-meant doom and gloom — no one reads anymore, certainly not locals and if they do, it’s on a Kindle… why not open a coffee shop? — he boldly stuck to his guns and opened Gerakbudaya.

The cheerful yellow doors and logo that beckon you inside.

The cheerful yellow doors and logo that beckon you inside.

It is a small but beautiful space on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (formerly Pitt Street), just a few doors up from the busy intersection with Chulia Street, directly opposite the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple. Cheerful yellow doors open into a single, bright, high-ceilinged room that stocks more than 3,000 titles, with fiction and poetry stacked along one side, history, politics, current affairs, social studies and biography along the other. In the centre, art and bestsellers. Near the counter, a beautiful range of postcards and on the counter top, a teapot and invitation to free tea. Outside, a table and chair wait, positioned for some quiet people watching as you flick through the secondhand book selection by the doorway.

Browse over 3000 carefully selected, wonderful titles.

Browse more than 3,000 eclectic titles.

The stock shows the imprint of Gareth and his young, passionate team’s major interests and areas of expertise. The added contribution of a dedicated seeker of secondhand books and an expert in rare, out-of-print antiquarian books means that if there is something interesting out there in the book world, if they haven’t already got it, Gerakbudaya will be sure to find it for you. It is a pure delight, almost akin to a religious experience, to spend some time in this calm, exquisite room, leafing through books with titles as varied as “Watercolours and Sketches of Malaya 1880–1894”, “Malaysian Cinema in a Bottle”, “Rich Malaysia, Poor Malaysians”, “The Beauty of Chinese Yixing teapots”, books that are feeding a growing multicultural, multi-lingual local and international following.

In the manner of Muhammad with the mountain, Gerakbudaya also runs pop-up book stalls that literally spring up whenever a concert, event or conference is hosted, allowing a future book-lover to come over and lay their hands on the real thing in a less intimidating arena than a bookshop. To further nurture the bond between writer and reader, the team uses the bookshop for signings and also works closely with Sinkeh, a guesthouse with a performance space, to arrange readings and meet the author sessions.

Gerakbudaya means cultural movement; its logo is a winged yellow book in glorious flight. If a visit to this lovely bookshop fails to move you to buy a rare first edition, it will certainly lift your spirit and allow you to reconnect with the power and beauty of ink on paper.

Gerakbudaya Bookshop
78 Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling
T: (04) 261 0282

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Location map for Gerakbudaya Bookshop

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