Sun, 24 Nov 2002

Finding imported books in local bookstores

Sudibyo M. Wiradji, Contributor, Jakarta

Despite the relatively high price, original books imported from other countries are more preferable to translated versions for many reasons. Thus, what concern most book enthusiasts that love original and quality books is how to find them.

With the Internet starting to get more use in Indonesia, one can order books from an overseas shop through a website but it could take several weeks to get the ordered book. Besides, it is quiet frequently heard that the books delivered from overseas gets damaged by the post office. Or when you hear that your friend or colleague is going abroad, you can ask him or her to buy you a book. But this is incidental in nature. Therefore, the best way to get imported books is by buying them at a bookstore here.

Like in every city in other countries, Jakarta offers a couple of bookstores that allows one to shop for original, imported books. With the books mostly targeted to middle and upper class buyers with little financial constraints, most of the stores are located in upmarket areas, such as airports, hotels and some of the modern malls. Most of the bookstores feature a decent selection of imported books with an excellent lay out design, comfortable and cozy setting and friendly staff.

Particular bookshops also offer sales service through email or by phone.

Periplus Bookshop can be found at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, at Terminal 2 Departure Halls D and E; Kompleks Villa Kemang; Grand Hyatt Hotel; Aryaduta Hotel and Kampung Kemang. Here you can find the books in high demand such as Children's Books, starting from pre-school level, Business and Management, Travel, Interior Design, Architecture and novels.

Trendy books under the category Body, Mind & Spirit include Emotional Intelligence and Feng Shui. A novel entitled The Summons by John Grisham is another favorite following the latest best-selling novel featuring Harry Potter.

The bookshop provides over 20,000 titles of original books and about 200 titles of magazines. You can find a wide selection of books on Indonesia with high quality printing. The books on Indonesia distributed by JavaBooks ranges from culture, architecture, tourism spots, handicrafts to gardening.

Besides Periplus, many other bookstores such as Aksara, QB World Book, Kinokuniya and The Times Bookshop also sell imported books or books on Indonesia but written in foreign languages.

"In fact, as far as imported books are concerned, priority is given to all books. But for further selections, priority is given to books on Indonesia with the hope that they (the books) will lure foreigners to come to the country," said Hanna Yakin, Periplus' Marketing Manager of the bookshop.

Even though the books are about Indonesia, most of the books are prepared by foreign writers and are printed overseas and therefore, they have to be imported, she said.

On particular dates, the bookstore holds special programs like book-signings and story-telling that will allow your children to be familiar with stories from various overseas countries while stimulating their imagination. If you visit the bookshop and buy a book there ahead of Idul Fitri, Christmas and New Year Holidays, you will be offered discount prices.

Hanna said that JavaBooks has been engaged in supplying books for almost every bookstore, newsstand, hotel, airport, supermarket, hypermarket, gallery and so forth. "The distributed books are under various categories including arts, architecture, business & management, biography, children's books, cookery, craft, fashion, gardening, health, interior design, maps & atlases, nature, photography, references, sports, travel, fiction, and magazines," she said.

Periplus Bookshops can also be found outside Jakarta. In Bali, you can find it at the International and Domestic Airport, Mal Bali Galeria, Matahari Kuta Square, Ubud, Legian and Nusa Dua. In Yogyakarta at Adi Sucipto Airport, Surabaya at Juanda Airport, in Makassar at Hasanuddin Airport.

The bookshop also plans to open its outlet at Polonia Airport in Medan and Clubstore Medan, North Sumatra.

Askara bookstore also sells ficton and non-fiction books of different categories including art and design, architecture, home design, children's books, cooking, food and beverages, politics, economics and busiess management.

"Our best selling categories are fiction, children, art/design and cooking," said Adinda Simanjuntak, a staff of the Aksara bookstore.

She said that Akasara planned to open a branch next year in Jakarta to meet the growing number of people coming to the bookstore which recently launched Akasar Music offering best selection of jazz and rock.

You can also hunt for original books by visiting QB World Book where you can select books that you desire and, if you are a member of the bookstore, you can use the Internet at the bookstore's Internet Cafe to surf the net for free. If you go on Saturdays, you can also watch an art movie in the cafe.

"We've tried to set up a new model of selling books in Indonesia. A concept that is both friendly and at the same time refreshing for book lovers," said Richard Oh, director of QB World Book.

"At QB World Kemang, our newest bookstore, we feature an art gallery," he said.

Currently, the bookstore provides in the vicinity of about 75,000 titles. "Of course the numbers of these titles are in constant flux, because of stock inventory," he said.

Popular books like the Tolkien series and business books and novels have always been in high demand, he said.

If you buy a book at Kinokuniya during the promotional month, you will be offered 10 percent to 60 percent discounts for particular books. Or, if you happen to buy a book at the shop in March when the bookstore celebrates its anniversary, you will be offered a 3 percent discount.

The bookstore provides a wide selection of imported books and magazines in English and Japanese, such as Food & Drink; Family & Relationships; Health; Sports; Aircrafts and Architecture.

At Kinokuniya, most of the books or magazines on display are wrapped in transparent plastic. If you are interested in having a glance, you can ask the shop staff to open the seal.

As part of its efforts to provide good services to customers, the shop will replace any improper book that has been purchased by a customer provided that the damage resulted from an error made by the publisher or the shop. The replacement is commonly made three days after the purchase.

If you are a regular customer at the bookstore, your name is included into the bookstore's data base. "We use the customer data base, especially when we want to inform them if there are new book arrivals or bestseller books and ask them if they are interested in buying one of these," said Edwan Harry, Corp. Affairs and HR Manager of the bookstore.

In Jakarta, Kinokuniya is on the third floor of Sogo Plaza Indonesia, on Jl. M.H. Thamrin, and on the third floor of Sogo Plaza Senayan, Jl. Asia Afrika.

At The Times Bookshop, you can find about 10,000 titles of imported books, mostly on interior design and children's books.

The books are targeted mostly to expatriates who are not familiar with Bahasa Indonesia.

So, with the availability of bookshops selling imported books, it might not be necessary for you to go abroad just to buy books.