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The best second-hand bookstores for literature lovers

The dearth of bookstores in the city is a nationwide problem – but thankfully, these second-hand gems keep our dreams afloat

By Rebecca Liew and Dewi Nurjuwita
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The rising popularity of online bookstores has made it more convenient for literature lovers to get their hands on the latest reads. But there's nothing as nostalgic as browsing through shelves stacked with pre-loved books at old-school bookstores. You never know when you might serendipitously find the first-edition print by your favourite author. Not to mention, you'll also help to give books a new lease of life when you choose to shop secondhand – earning you lots of sustainability points. Here are the best favourite second-hand bookstores in Singapore to get lost in. 

RECOMMENDED: 15 best bookstores in Singapore and buy and trade pre-loved books easily with Singapore’s first sustainable online bookstore

Gohd Books
Gohd Books
Photograph: GOHD Books

GOHD Books

GOHD Books was once a secret haven for with a collection of eclectic and rare titles including leather-bound biographies, fairy tale tomes, books on natural history and folklore and translated classics like Don Quixote that remain in almost perfect condition. But it has since moved its operations entirely online. You can still browse through its stunning selection online – whether its the first edition of Tamamera by Noel Barber, an 1886 study on the gypsies of India or a written documentation of Borneo natives from 1927. Prices start from around $50.

Evernew Bookstore

Shopping Bookshops City Hall

Passersby may overlook Evernew Bookstore's unassuming shopfront, but come closer and you'll see that it's decked in Communist paraphernalia dating back from the cultural revolution. Inside, bibliophiles will be in awe of this treasure trove of classic literature and sociopolitical books – some of which are out of print. Its extensive selection – ranging from Chinese literature and medical dictionaries to political biographies and popular ’90s comic series, Mr Kiasu – is neatly split by genre, so you can easily find what you're looking for. 

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Knowledge Book Centre
Knowledge Book Centre
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Knowledge Book Centre

Shopping Bookshops City Hall

Another well-loved bookstore in Bras Basah Complex that has stood the test of time is Knowledge Book Centre. Here, you'll find mainly educational materials at roughly a third cheaper than anywhere else. Its fiction selection, however, runs thin. So if you’re after a specific title, check with co-owner Mohamed Ismail. 

Book Treasure

Shopping Bookshops Rochor

Book Treasure’s set-up is as no-frills as it gets. It's styled in the form of a book fair in the atrium of a creaking old mall, illuminated only by dim lights overhead. Here, old issues of Economist, TIME and National Geographic occupy one section – but everything else isn’t organised in any apparent order. So you’ll uncover how-to guides like Stepping Stones to GO: Written for the Westerner alongside titles covering parenting, religion and alternative views on legal systems overseas. There’s a decent selection of fiction to sift through, too, but everything’s sealed in plastic, so you’ll have to approach the counter to thumb through a copy.

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Ana Bookstore
Ana Bookstore
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Ana Bookstore

Shopping Bookshops Orchard

He’s better known as Mr Bean, but the man running the 40-year-old business is in fact Mohd Noorul Islam. Archie Comics, chick-lit novels and well-loved classics occupy most of the store. There’s also non-fiction covering investment, fashion and the spiritual world, although this makes up far sparser a selection. Not all titles can be rented, and book donations are accepted and valued on-the-spot.

Thryft
Thryft
Photograph: Thryft

Thryft

Singapore's first-ever sustainable online bookstore, Thryft was founded by a group of book-loving friends in the hopes of giving pre-loved books a new lease of life. You can currently browse through its online catalogue of books with various finds – from Sing Lit to vintage finds by great authors the likes of Shakespeare, Tolstoy and more. Thryft also holds book fairs at various locations in Singapore such as Crane Club and Sprout Hub, so follow their Instagram page and stay tuned for more updates. 

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Basheer Graphics Books
Basheer Graphics Books
Anna Chittenden

Basheer Graphic Books

Shopping Bookshops City Hall

Basheer Graphic Books is no stranger amongst the art types in Bras Basah. A regular haunt for graphic designers and illustrators, the bookstore stocks the best and latest in disciplines that range from graphics and architecture to fashion and animation. There are also regular discounts offered on specialised magazines and publications. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Leave your name, number and the desired title(s), and you’ll be notified once it arrives.

Sultana Book Store

Shopping Bookshops Rochor

Books are stacked precariously around shelves in here, and you’ll find titles on languages, philosophy, animals and brain teasers. Owner Mr Kwok – he declines to share his full name – easily locates titles in his labyrinth of tomes. He doesn’t accept book donations, though, given the volume of titles in the shop. 

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