Do you prefer your books to have a bit of character? Roll up your sleeves and score a literary gem or two at these top secondhand and rental bookstores in KL.
Jumble Station is a community outreach initiative by the NGO Parents Without Borders to help raise funds for single parents. There’s a small corner in the shop that sells secondhand books which were donated by the public. Get three books for RM10, two for RM8 and one for RM5.
Located on the ground floor of Central Market is the creatively-named Kedai Buku, manned by Mr Velu and his younger brother. Open since 1986, the recession-friendly Kedai Buku is a tiny space stacked with secondhand and new books from floor to ceiling. The selection mostly comprises secondhand Mills & Boon, Danielle Steele, Dan Brown, travel guides and magazines, with the occasional interesting read (exchanged by tourists on a visit to Central Market) thrown in for good measure. Book rental services available.
One of the longest-running secondhand bookshops in KL, Junk Bookstore is packed to the brim with literary gems, comics and LPs. It’s a given that you’ll spend a good few hours scrabbling through the shelves; the books, some of which are first edition or have gone out of print, are very loosely arranged by genre, and prices start from as cheap as RM3. Fun fact: The husband-and-wife owners once sold a book on Malayan history for RM8,000.
While secondhand bookstores have reluctantly surrendered their spaces to cafés, the owner of Book X-Change has managed to stay afloat for 20 years – now sharing the same premises as her son’s venture, Boardgame Depot. Lose yourself in a labyrinth of Stephen Kings, Tolkiens, Grishams, The Archie’s and more – rent them from only RM6, or make them yours at a discounted rate of the original price.
With an offbeat location and no signage, keep an eye out for a store with a half-opened shutter; take a peek and you’ll see rows of shelves. Buku Terpakai is a bit like a bundle store for books – also a bit of a nightmare for the obsessive-compulsive as the books aren’t really divided into sections. But with a bit of effort, you’ll find gems here. On our visit it was James Joyce’s ‘Dubliner’ whose margins were full of footnotes on almost every page (fun fact: the store owner sources the books from old bookstores and university libraries). Besides books you’ll also find old stamps, Super 8 film reels, cassettes and old magazines.