Bras Basah Complex Bookstores


A few days after I posted Online Bookstores in Singapore, a friend WhatsApped me to ask whether I shopped for books, new and used, at Bras Basah Complex, and requested that I share my favorites. I shop at Bras Basah Complex all the time; I’m frequently in the neighborhood, either at the National Library or at Fancy Papers.

These are the bookstores that I return to again and again:

Basheer Graphic Books (#4-19) is a well-stocked bookshop carrying a range of art and design titles. Basheer stocks a bottomless well of inspiration; all sorts of art/design/craft books line their shelves, from fashion photography monographs to furniture design tomes, from cinematography manuals to ceramics encyclopedias. Recent acquisition: Bookbinding: The Classic Arts and Crafts Manual by Douglas Cockerell, new, paperback, SG$14.00, as I had misplaced my previous copy!

I can while away hours at Book Point (#03-15/16/17). It reminds me of the flea-marketesque Strand Bookstore, an East Village icon. Book Point, like the Strand, has floor fans whirring and an incredible selection of new, used, and out-of-print books stacked higgledy-piggledy. The store is chaotic, but there are gems here to be found, especially in their art and craft stacks. Book Point also buys used books, and, IMO, offers fair prices for old books, whether fiction or nonfiction. Recent acquisition: Encyclopedia of Hand-Weaving by S. A. Zielinski, used, hardcover, SG$6.00, as I have recently acquired a rigid heddle loom and am attempting to master it.

Knowledge Book Center (#03-35) specializes in assessment books, towering shelves-full of books, meticulously categorized by subject and level, but has a decent collection of used fiction. Recent acquisitionNo Other City: The Ethos Anthology of Urban Poetry, used, paperback, SG$12.00.

Children’s Book Centre (#04-53) and Children’s Book Corner (#03-11) house sizable collections of books for young readers. The former stocks new books, priced at 30% off retail; the latter carries Chinese-language books (and a handful of bilingual Chinese/English) for tykes.

Music Book Room (#01/51/52) not only carries music scores, but also stocks a wonderful selection of Japanese sewing magazines, such as Cotton Time and Japan Quilt, and knitting patterns, also in Japanese.

Bras Basah Complex also houses Popular, a popular (heh!) chain, but this branch is no different than the many others that dot the island. I rarely venture inside.

Did I miss your favorite Bras Basah Complex bookstore? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

3 responses

  1. There’s one on the first floor entitled Evernew – ironic name, because they have lots of 2 for $5 second-hand books! In any case, it’s hard work trawling, but I’ve got great finds from their store – two recent ones are Orange Is Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

    Another bookstore in the vicinity of Bras Basah Complex is Grassroots Bookroom. They’re in the building with a Cheers and a cake shop of sorts behind Bras Basah Complex, on the third floor with Mindlever Tuition Centre. They’ve got a fairly interesting collection of local authors – the kind you’d find at Books Actually, but with a nice old uncle, slightly down-priced vibe instead of an atas hipster vibe. Interestingly, they also have some books about/by political dissidents – definitely something hard to find in Singapore. They’ve got some queer SG lit too – I’ve bought GASPP (Gay Anthology of Singaporean Poetry and Prose, edited by Ng Yi-sheng) and the Asian Boys trilogy by Alfian Sa’at, and I spotted a compilation of 25 speeches at a PLU event or something like that too. In addition to that, they have a large collection of Chinese books, including SG’s renowned Yeng Pway Ngon. Do check them out – they need the customers!