Friday, October 30, 2009

Singaporean Interlude

Back in the 80's, I used to take a bus down to Singapore so that I could get my fix of cheap second hand books at a row of tumbledown shops in Bras Basah road.

The area was redeveloped (as everywhere in Singapore tended to be) and the shops disappeared. It was only on this trip that I caught up with the booksellers again - in the (aptly named) Bras Basah Complex on Bain Street and thanks to Ellen Whyte who dragged me there during our symposium lunch-break on Thursday. The pictures are of Knowledge Book Centre on the third level of the complex - just one of several bookshops here, and well worth a visit when you are down in Lion City.

(I've lots to post about the symposium over the next week or so.)


Greenbottle said...

interesting! i don't know that they had this in S'pore. I used to go to mcalister road penang to buy cheap secondhand paperbacks. the road was lined with many bookstalls selling these. i remember i first read gore vidal thanks to these book stalls.

this place was also unfortunately "redevaloped' and the last i visited there the place was taken over by durian sellers and street hawkers.

the booksellers were transferred to the crappy chowrastra shopping complex among shops selling cheap shoes and clothings. don't know if they still exist now. sad.

katztales said...

It's a great complex with at least two second hand book stores, one HUGE music book store, and loads of magazine and printing shops.

MayaKirana said...

Hi Sharon: I must pop by S'pore now. But in Penang, I go to my regular secondhand bookstore in Midlands One-stop, Pulau Tikus for my share of books and mags. I've gone to Chowrasta market but I much prefer the airconditioned shop in Pulau Tikus called 2020. It opens on most days from 12 noon onwards. The shop's been there for ages and sells some specialty mags too like design mags.

Preets said...

Interesting -- I didn't know that all that redevelopment in Singapore was done as late as the 1980s (or after?). I thought most of it happened in the '70s, but I don't know Singapore well at all. My brothers both went to school there, though, in the early '80s.

Here's a question for all you local second-hand-book hounds: I've been looking for years and years and years and YEARS for this reading series from the 1940s, entitled _Look And Read_ and I *think* originally published by MPH (or whatever it used to be called in those days, I forget). It was a series of textbooks used in primary schools and the chapters in Book One were organised around local occupations, e.g. "Lesson One: The Ting-Ting Man," and "Lesson Two: The Fowl-Seller."

Many senior citizens remember this series but no one has been able to tell me where I might find copies. I searched in many second-hand bookshops in Penang. One bookseller gave me one of my favourite quotes of all time when I asked him if he might have any of these books:

"Miss, this type of book is now coming more less. Last time we were having upstair and downstair, but now even upstair is coming downstair."

Ashkarya said...

I love this store! I always find old out-of-print titles that I loved when I was a kid here.

Chet said...

Wah, got laptop somemore. Is that where he has his books database?

Damyanti said...

Wow, wish I had read this post while I was still there! Thanks Sharon, will look this place up next time.

marineko said...

Btw, the comment by Ashkarya was really by me. I guess I was logged into my sister-in-law's blogger account at the time. :/

- Marisa