The last day: Lawang Buku owner Deni Rahman (right) has decided to close down his bookshop at Balubur Town Square due to the declining number of sales. He plans to continue selling second-hand books online.
During the good old days, second-hand books enjoyed a place in the heart of many bookworms. Today, alternative bookshops in Bandung are struggling to survive.
People crowded around the Lawang Buku stall on the upper floor of Balubur Town Square (Baltos) shopping center in Bandung, West Java, searching for specific titles or just browsing the books on display. Among the visitors, those carrying back bags struggled to fit themselves into the tight space.
In October 2015, owner of Lawang Buku Deni Rahman rented a 6-square meter space for the stall at the shopping center, which is located near college student housing. For the previous three years the stall only occupied a space beneath an escalator.
“This is now the busiest time,” Deni said as he served his customers and visitors.
Ironically, though, as the shop offering various second-hand books teemed with visitors, its days at Baltos were numbered. Deni signaled this by putting up a notice, “Half-price books for sale, Oct. 3 to 4, 2016”. A white poster also offered 450 books in 400 titles of various categories, for a total cost of Rp 15 million (US$1,150).
“The public’s purchasing power has declined in the last two years, so I’ll go back to online and exhibition sales. Now it’s important to recover my capital to buy more old books so that the business can keep running,” Deni said about his decision to sell off the books at half price.
Andrias Arifin, 36, Deni’s customer and peer, described the closing down of the book stall as a great loss.
“This place has become a gathering spot for second-hand book lovers because such a shop is very rarely found,” he said.
Clear-out: Hundreds of books are sold for a fixed price as stated in the announcement at Lawang Buku bookshop.
A library and second-hand book shop, Reading Lights, located in Bandung’s Gandok zone, has also shut its doors. Here too the shop management hung out a banner offering discounts for its book collections before the closure of the business.
Lawang Buku and Reading Lights added color to the city’s book scene despite their different styles and book genres. The two old bookshops provided alternative sources of literature to classic book enthusiasts.
Similarly, Omuniuum, Tobucil and Kineruku bookshops don’t just sell books like most traders do at the Palasari book center. Tobucil manager Elin Purwanti said her book sales could no longer support or cover operational costs.
“We rely on vintage books as people are seeking collectibles,” said the 36-year-old woman.
Other bookshop owners have tried to get creative to maintain their book businesses. Tobucil founder Tarlen Handayani, for example, has decided to cater to various craft and hobby needs by providing yarns, knitting needles and different materials to cover her shop’s operational costs.
“We also survive by running handicraft classes with the support of local communities,” Tarlen said.
The decreasing number of alternative bookshops in Bandung has reached a critical point. Tarlen said her community planned to gather for a discussion on the decline of Bandung’s decades-long book scene, with the aim of searching for a solution and learning to survive.
— Photos by JP/Arya Dipa
sumber : The Jakarta Post