musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

Posts tagged ‘BookXcess’

Keeping the Music Alive and the Pages Turning in KL

I returned from a four-day trip to Kuala Lumpur earlier this week. KL has become one of my favorite quick getaway destinations in recent years. I don’t much, if any, sightseeing at this stage of my visits, however. I have a clear agenda upon arrival: buy CDs, buy books, buy more CDs, and eat lots of good meals.

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Unlike Bangkok, where retail CD shops have become very scarce, Kuala Lumpur still does have several good shops that sell new CDs, both domestic and imports. Rock Corner sports the best selection and has several branches in the greater KL area, as does the Victoria Music Center, and there is even a branch of Tower Records still open! I had thought that Tower had finally bit the dust (as they have in the US) after their one large store downsized and moved into the corner of an electronics department in KL’s Times Square two years ago. But I accidentally stumbled upon their new location in the Gardens, adjacent to the Mid Valley Megamall, on the same floor at the Rock Corner branch. The stock at Tower is greatly reduced from their glory years, but it appears that Classical music takes up about half of the stock and those sales are keeping the shop alive. Tower also has a pretty good selection of Jazz and World Music, but their pop and rock offerings are pitiful at this point.

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Meanwhile, Rock Corner, despite having the largest selection and most interesting assortment of CDs and DVDs, appears as if they are struggling to stay open. Last year they closed their branch in the Mid Valley Megamall, as well as the one in the 1 Utama shopping center, and this year I was dismayed to find that they had also shuttered their original shop in KLCC. The manager at one shop told me that spiraling rents were to blame. But they still have four very well-stocked shops still operating in Bangsar Village, Subang Parade in Subang Jaya, the Curve, and the Gardens. My bulging bags coming back to Bangkok are evidence that they still have plenty of good titles.

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The Amcorp Mall also holds a few treasures for music lovers, especially on weekends. The Victoria Music Center branch there has a decent selection of CDs and the employees are very knowledgeable. On weekends the mall has an indoor flea market with several dealers selling secondhand CDs and vinyl records. A little browsing leads to a lot! A further lure at Amcorp Mall is the giant BookXcess store. They sell remainders — all new books at greatly reduced prices — in many categories, and you get a further discount if you have a member card. Speaking of books, the long-running Junk Book Store on Jalan Tun H.S. Lee is still around too. They sell only secondhand books and the prices are a bit cheap for the quality of the stuff they are selling, but it’s a fun place to browse. I am always amazed at the old treasures they have in stock. Any shop that has multiple titles by the likes of Donald E. Westlake, Ed McBain, and Ross Thomas is alright in my book! Needless to say, I usually find something to buy there, even if the book is overpriced and finding what you want is challenging. With its narrow aisles, low ceiling and baffling way of grouping books together, good luck finding what you are looking for. The books are neatly stacked, and most wrapped in plastic, but if they are organized in any manner at all, I have yet to figure out their system!

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Quirky or not, it’s still a pleasure to shop in places like the Junk Book Store and CD shops like Rock Corner, Tower Records, and Victoria Music, all of which are managing to stay in business and cater to “old school” customers like me who appreciate a well-stocked shop that is run by people who are passionate about what they are doing. Hey, all of this online crap is fun and shiny and oh-so-easy, but don’t forget about the brick and mortar shops that remain the foundation of the music and book business. They need your support now more than ever!

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Book Bonanza in Kuala Lumpur

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There is still time; one week left for the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale being held at the Malaysia International Exhibition and Convention Centre (MIECC) in the Seri Kembangan area of Kuala Lumpur. I realize that hopping over to KL won’t be possible for most readers, but if you ARE in Malaysia, or passing through the region, you might to think about hitting this sale. It’s a pretty mammoth event.

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This sale is being touted as the biggest in the world; over three million books, all with discounts of 75-95 percent off the publisher’s list price. The sale will end on December 23. Last weekend the book sale never stopped, staying open from 9 am on Friday until 6 pm on Saturday. Imagine shopping for books at three in the morning and enjoying free food and drinks in the process. Both mind boggling and eyesight tiring. The MIECC is located in the MINES Resort City, Selangor Darul Ehsan. Seri Kembangan. One fellow book lover in KL suggested that I should “take a box” if I was planning on attending. If nothing else, anyone planning to go there should bring several sturdy bags or a dependable set of luggage. You’ll be tempted by the bargains.

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I was in Kuala Lumpur about two weeks ago, too soon to take advantage of this sale, but I did make my usual stop at the BookXcess outlet at the Amcorp Mall in Petaling Jaya. They had an outstanding selection of affordable remainder titles as usual, everything from trade size paperback novels to hardcover titles, and books in a wide array of categories, including travel, sports, photography, biography, science, business, music, history, cooking, and romance. I bought a few books for myself, a couple of big bags full of assorted titles for my shop in Bangkok, and several children’s books, flashcards, and puzzles to use for teaching the next time I’m Shan State. They also had a pretty cool selection of Dr. Seuss jigsaw puzzles. Tempting, but at that point I was pushing the weight limit of my baggage allowance, so I didn’t get any.

BookXcess only has this one branch in town, but it makes for a very worthwhile visit if you are a book fiend. And it’s easy to get to from anywhere in the KL area. Just hop on the LRT train and take it to the Tama Jaya station. From there, it’s a short walk across the parking lot (just past the vintage A&W drive-through restaurant) to the mall. BookXcess is located on the third floor. They are open daily from 10:30 am till 9:30 pm.

http://www.bookxcess.com/

http://bigbadwolfbooks.com/

 

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