Inside Kuala Lumpur’s largest second-hand bookshop

Owner of the Junk Bookstore Jeffrey Koh, 65, has always made sure all his books and magazines are in good condition and quality. — Bernama pic
Owner of the Junk Bookstore Jeffrey Koh, 65, has always made sure all his books and magazines are in good condition and quality. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 — When entering through the ligneous door of the largest second-hand bookshop in town, the writer was greeted by a warm and cosy ambiance, along with the view of endless books neatly placed on the racks.

Situated at Jalan Tun HS Lee, here, the bookshop surely would make every book lover feel enthralled to be part of the country’s oldest second-hand bookstore, which houses about two million books, and be spoiled for choice.

The three-layered bookstore, owned by a couple known as Mr and Mrs Tan since 1990, which is now managed by Mrs Tan’s youngest brother, Jeffrey Koh since four years ago, also has been ‘home’ to 300,000 exclusive old books that had not been produced anymore.

“During old times, many European expatriates in Malaysia went back to their country and would leave so many books in their house (here). As my brother-in-law and sister’s hobby is reading book, they willingly collected all the books from each house and it’s quite a hard time for them at that time.

“Then, because of too many books they had to carry, they had to import a large container from Australia, solely to put in the books,” Koh, 65, told Bernama at the bookstore.

Koh said every morning, his assistant who has been working at the shop for the past 27 years, Ms Yap would clean up all the dust from the top of the books and would make sure all books are wrapped with plastic to maintain its quality as best as as possible.

“Books are somewhat like antique. The older it is, the more expensive it is. Those obsolete books which have not been produced in the market anymore are more expensive. That’s why we have to take care of it properly and with care,” he said.

Asked on what type of customers that he has, Koh said the majority of them are European tourists.

He said, “Many customers are very happy because they could find the book that they couldn’t find anywhere but only here. They are willing to pay whatever it costs because of its sentimental value.”

Commenting on the reading habit among Malaysians, Koh said the habit should be cultivated starting from schooling days as the institution is the crucial part of the children’s growing and learning process, but not to forget home education also plays a vital role in ‘bending’ the reading habit inside their children.

“Unlike Jewish, European and Chinese (in China) people, sad to say, local youngsters don’t read books and their reading material wholly depends on the Internet. This is not good. By reading books, you can not only gain more knowledge with real facts but you can always go back to the book, anytime you want.

“Plus, the satisfaction of reading through the Internet is not the same as the excitement of reading real, solid book,” said Koh who would spend two hours to read his favourite pieces such as China history, politics, and biography. — Bernama

* Junk Bookstore is located at 78, Jalan Tun HS Lee, 50050 Kuala Lumpur.

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