Unique Side of Jakarta : Cheap Book Hunting Sites


Jakarta isn’t a literary capital compared to other cities in the world. Busy life in the city and Indonesia’s low reading index are two factors contributing to few bookstores in the capital. Add to that is growing online reading, online bookstores and e-books ready to be downloaded for free of charge.

But some remain faithful on paper-based books and their friends. There are still many booklovers who devote time reading physical books. Hence, you can still discover many book outlets.

There are some modern, book chain stores, such as Gramedia and Kinokuniya, in the city. Also, some independent bookstores are opened here, like Post Santa and Transit Books in Santa market of South Jakarta.

Interestingly, Jakarta has always sites for hunting cheaper items, books are on the list. While the aforementioned bookstores usually sell new books or best-selling ones, below contain a list of book hunting sites for you who wish reading rare collections, second-hand books and new ones at affordable prices. So, here they are:

1. Kwitang

Typical book hunting in Kwitang

Typical book hunting in Kwitang (via surganyajalan.blogspot.com)

Kwitang has long been associated with book selling at cheap price. The location is nearby Senen, Central Jakarta. Prior to kiosk demolition in 2008, there were hundreds of book sellers offering materials here. Some of them have moved to Senen market or Thamrin City shopping mall. But you can still find some vendors selling books alongside Kwitang area, particularly nearby Senen Transjakarta bus shelter. Usually, the sellers don’t only sell books but also magazines, tabloids, crosswords and a lot of materials. Some are new, others are old, even rare ones. Good news is you can bargain here.

2. Nearby Senen bus terminal

Heaven for book lovers in Senen bus terminal area

Heaven for book lovers in Senen bus terminal area (via igetlostmore.blogspot.com)

Not far from the Kwitang area is Senen bus terminal which sees plenty book sellers offering secondhand books and new ones in their modest kiosks. I once bought a magazine and was fortunate to have bought it at cheap price compared to buying it in a modern bookstore. There were many options when I visited the site. Most of them were old books in good conditions. If you love collecting secondhand books then this place is right for you.

3. Blok M Square

Displayed books in Blok M Square

Displayed books in Blok M Square (via syafiiiq.blogspot.com)

Blok M Square has another center add to its already famous place for affordable clothes and batik center. The shopping center is also a heaven for book lovers. On the lowest ground you can find many book sellers displaying collections, some are hard to be found. Some of the sellers were from Kwitang area. When you wish to look for some rare titles that are no longer available at bookstores, you can rely on the sellers here. If you were lucky, you can get the books that you want. I once tried contacting one of the book sellers here but to no avail as the book that I wished to purchase had been sold. From my case, I studied that secondhand books or rare books have their own admirers. This I believe what makes traditional booksellers in the capital still have rooms to gain profit.

4. Thamrin City

Situation in Thamrin City book area

Situation in Thamrin City book area (via grahabukubekas.blogspot.com)

I have never visited the shopping mall except for purchasing clothes or batik. According to ulinulin.com, there are book vendors who sell books at cheap prices at the 3A floor of the shopping mall that is located in Central Jakarta. There are also secondhand books that you can buy here. The vendors usually start selling from 9 am to 10 pm every day.

5. Taman Ismail Marzuki

Piles of books in Galeri Buku Graha Deklamasi

Piles of books in Galeri Buku Graha Deklamasi (via djangkarubumi.com)

Taman Ismail Marzuki is the center of art and literature in the capital. Located in Cikini, Central Jakarta, this park has Galeri Buku Graha Deklamasi section that sees vendors selling books on literature and culture. Don’t hesitate to bargain on the prices of the desired books with the vendors.

Visiting one of the sites can be a good option when you wish reading but running out of money. Or you can go to the places when you think of looking for certain titles that are out of print. Regardless of the motivation, you may expect interesting stories looking at titles and talking to book sellers. You may not know what they may suggest for your to-be-read list. And that what makes hunting secondhand books or rare collections a worthy activity besides hanging on shopping malls, watching movies or drinking a cup of coffee with friends.

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Eny Wulandari

Eny Wulandari

A passionate writer and translator

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