A bookworm in Indonesia

As our adventures in Indonesia were winding down an the days before we had to leave looming in the horizon, there was still one more thing we had to do: visit a bookstore. Ever since my post on bookstores in Hong Kong, I have been motivated to check out local bookstores in places I have been to. I was lucky enough to visit two: Kinokuniya and Books & Beyond. At the same time, my adventures were further complemented when I visited the bookstore in Changi International Airport.


The first book store I visited wasn’t in Jakarta but in Bandung. The need to visit a book store was my growing curiosity over what books they would stock and at the same time if I could find something unique to add to my bookshelf like the ones I got from Mt. Cloud two years ago: Dawa and Serve the People. The second reason why we also visited a bookstore was to help my friend, Ron, get an Indonesian version of Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s “The Little Prince”, as part of his growing multilingual versions of the book.

In Bandung we visited two bookstores, the first was Books & Beyond in Istana Plaza. Books & Beyond is an English language bookstore, evident that there were no Indonesian books present at all. I immediately went to the fiction section to see if there was anything for me. My eyes feasted on the covers and also on the large formats (I didn’t see a lot of mass paperbacks) and I nearly bought a book but based on the Amazon reviews I decided to forego it. Ron on the other hand had no luck finding an Indonesia version of the Little Prince but the staff suggested we visit GranMedia on the next floor.


Off we went to GranMedia bookstore and wow! Wow not because it was vast but because it looked like an exact copy of our own National Bookstore. The white light, the rows upon rows of shelves, the hodge-podge of stationary mixed with travel luggage, mixed with stationary supplies. Once again I made a beeline for their fiction section only to find out that all of the books were in Indonesian. The cool thing though, I saw an Indonesian version of The Adventures of Tintin, which I was very nearly tempted to buy (Php. 350/IDR 100,000) and start my own collection of multilingual Tintin comics collection. Unfortunately Ron struck out again and we decided to try again in Jakarta.

Fast forward to Jakarta we finally made it to our first grand mall, aptly titled Grand Indonesia, a behemoth of a mall that would put SM Megamall to shame. After coming from our IKEA shopping spree the first thing I asked information was the location of Kinokuniya. For years I have always wanted to go to Kinokuniya, my professor in the MA praises the bookstore for its collections, I love their collection of nearly complete graphic novels, and from time to time their big branches carry quirky titles.


The Kinokuniya branch in Grand Indonesia was a small one and this time I didn’t make a beeline for the fiction section but their graphic novel one. My eyes feasted on the stacks of Marvel, DC, and some indie graphic novels. I was hoping I would find a copy of the graphic novel “Democracy” by Alecos Papadatos or at least Marvel’s Ms. Marvel written by G. Willow Wilson. But I struck out on both, nonetheless I continued my search in the fiction section. Tricia struck gold when she found a really nice Lonely Planet book titled “An Innocent Abroad” and I finally convinced myself to get “A God in Ruins”.


Going home we had a 7 hour layover in Changi International Airport, arriving at midnight I would leave Tricia in one of the airport’s many couches to check out Times Travel, one of Changi’s many bookstores. Since I wasn’t contented bringing home “A God in Ruins” I was faced with two options: Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden or Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan. For 3 out of the 7 hour layover my inner bookworm was telling me to buy both however my thinned out PayMaya and general funds were screaming to just buy one. It was a hard decision but I ended up buying Escape from Camp 14, promising myself I would buy Green Island in the near future. Besides fretting over the two books, I really liked the selections in Times Travel more than the bookstores in Indonesia, maybe it’s because it’s a huge airport their selections are wide and vast and for a layover it was one of most productive ways to kill time.

Needless to say I went home happy, I bought two books that were relatively cheaper there than here. I was able to experience Kinokuniya for the first time, though I’ll probably go to the one in Singapore or in Japan hopefully in the future. I spent 7 hours in one of the world’s most beautiful airports fretting over which book to buy and which I consider time very well spent. Oh and Ron also found an Indonesian version of his Little in the GranMedia branch in Grand Indonesia. All in all we were all happy bookworms.




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