Sun, 25 May 2003

Major bookstores offer wide selection of imported books

Sudibyo M. Wiradji, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Despite their limited stock of imported books in English, several bookstores in Jakarta provide a comprehensive selection of current titles and bestsellers, allowing you to maintain your life-long passion for reading quality books.

Just mention the bestsellers you desire, for example, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, or Robert T. Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Spencer M.D. Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and Your Life. All are available at major bookstores across the capital, and can be found as easily as at any bookstore in other metropolises, such as Singapore, Tokyo, Toronto, New York and London.

As in other countries, select bookstores in Jakarta are slated to release simultaneously the fifth book of the Harry Potter series, The Order of the Phoenix on June 11, 2003, to meet local market demands.

"Based on a business deal with an overseas publisher, we will not release the book until June 11, 2003," said Lili Christianty of Gramedia publishing house.

Several bookstores in Jakarta cater to the expatriate market, especially international bookstore chains like Times Bookstore from Singapore and Kinokuniya from Japan.

Major local book suppliers like Gramedia, Gunung Agung and Limma also provide imported books and special publications catering to expatriates, professionals, students and housewives.

Gramedia and Gunung Agung are local bookstore-stationer chains with branches in most major cities in Indonesia, with branches usually located in shopping malls and plazas, and are varied in terms of the titles and the quantity of books available. As for genres, they commonly offer a selection of paperback bestsellers, self-help books on business, computers and health, travel guides and maps, cookbooks, fiction, non-fiction, and books on graphic arts and interior design.

If you are looking for a specific title but, for some reason, would prefer to stay at home, you can order a book via the Internet. The Gramedia outlet in Taman Anggrek Mall and Limma Bookstore in Kemang are among those bookstores that offer online book sales at and

Just go to the website, choose the book you want and click "send". "Once you have settled the payment, either by credit card or by cash on delivery (COD), your book will be delivered to you without delay," said Limma's Assistant to Managing Director Rani Mita.

Periplus Bookshop, one of the major retailers of imported books in Jakarta and a regional publisher to boot, has outlets at the Grand Hyatt and Aryaduta hotels, as well as at Villa Kemang, Plaza Kampung Kemang, Plaza Kelapa Dua and Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

Periplus regularly holds various events to attract customers, such as a Best Buy Product campaign, which offers a particular title at a special price. "We also hold book signings by authors and artists," said Hanna Yakin, marketing manager of Periplus Bookstore. An average minimum discount of 10 percent is available for customers who purchase books in bulk, she added.

Aksara Bookstore, located on Jl. Kemang Raya II, has a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books, as well as books on art and design, architecture, home design, children's books, politics, religion, cooking, food and beverage, music, film, photography, business and travel.

"We try to offer a pleasant overall experience for people who visit our bookstore, in terms of atmosphere and services. And we are proud that we have always received high ratings from our customers in regards these two points," said Adinda Simandjuntak of Aksara Bookstore.

The bookstore has a bi-annual sale in February and from June to July, so time your book-buying spree during these months and find select titles sold at discount prices.

Aksara also has a membership program that entitles members to a Rp 100,000 voucher for every Rp 1 million spent on purchases within six months.

At Times Bookstore, you will find a solid selection of children's and business books. "We try and target as broad-based a market as possible, with emphasis on the family," said Times Bookstore's Operation Manager Michael.

Here, the bookstore offers current bestsellers, like One Minute Millionaire by Mark Hansen, and sell books at competitive prices ranging from Rp 100,000 to Rp 500,000.

Times also offers bulk discounts on a case-to-case basis and can also arrange delivery for bulk orders.

In addition to its outlet at Plaza Indonesia on Jl. Thamrin, Times Bookstore also has outlets at Plaza Senayan and Pondok Indah Mall.

You can also browse through QB (Quality Buyers) World Books at its first branch on Jl. Sunda in Central Jakarta, or its other branches at Plaza Senayan Level 3, Jl. Iskandar Muda or on Jl. Kemang Raya in South Jakarta. Excluding the Plaza Senayan branch, all QB bookstores have a cafe where you can relax and sip a refreshing juice or have a light lunch.

QB World Books stocks about 75,000 titles, and offers a great range of genre and special-interest books, such as screenplays, writer's guides and even a small selection of American comic books. If the title you want is not in stock, QB staff can order it for you directly through their distributor, if it's available.

Become a member, and QB will keep you updated as to the latest releases and reviews in an electronic weekly newsletter, and as an added bonus, you'll get 10 percent off at select restaurants and cafes across the city.

QB also holds special events, such as film screenings on weekends, exhibitions at the gallery in its Kemang branch, book signings and informal book and film discussions -- all announced via email.

Compared to locally published books, imported books have now become much more expensive due to the weakening of the rupiah against the U.S. dollar since the onset of the economic crisis.

This has prompted some bookstores to offer book rental services. At Limma Bookstore, for instance, you can take out imported books from the library -- but you'll need to become a member first.

In a bid to make imported books more affordable, particularly text books for university students, publishers like Gramedia have signed special deals with foreign publishers such as McGraw Hill and John Wiley and Sons, both of the U.S. David Colander's The Economics published by McGraw Hill, for instance, costs only Rp 130,000 (US$15.5) per book, compared to its retail price of over Rp 200,000. Gramedia also offers bestseller titles in Indonesian translation.

Although Indonesia may not be known for its literary culture, bookstores now abound throughout the capital with a wide range of titles and services, that any bookworm is sure to find the right store to satisfy their literary appetite.