BOOKSACTUALLY (est. 2005) is an independent bookstore specializing in Fiction and Literature. This includes Poetry, Essays, Literary Journals, alongside obscure, critical works and antique/rare editions. We also stock titles from various subjects we like: History, Biography, Current Affairs, Human Sciences, Math/Natural Sciences, Travel Narrative, Food Narrative, Aesthetics, Music and Film. BOOKSACTUALLY also houses the largest collection of Singapore literary publications including some out-of-print titles.
Despite the dying reading culture in Singapore (does anyone remember the demise of Borders (and the one of Prologue which followed]?) Books Actually has managed to do good for themselves to not only keep the community alive and close-knit, but also provide opportunities for aspiring creatives to publish their works under their publishing arm, Math Paper Press.
Range-wise, this quirky independent bookstore houses titles over a pretty extensive spectrum of genres; although, its strength seems to lie in fiction and literature, particularly local-written ones. I recall it being one of the first new-generation local businesses that sprouted out along hipster-ish Tiong Bahru vicinity; so a weekend drop-by is definitely highly recommended.
The interior of the small shophouse space on Yong Siak Street is softly lit, with cluttered shelves and tables piled high with books. I love the quiet, cosy vibe of BooksActually, which make the place feel like home. They even have a cat that you can play with! If you’ve been searching, without success, for a novel or anthology by a local writer, you should definitely try BooksActually.
Take your time to browse through the glossy titles and to explore this unique space, you’ll be sure to find something that catches your eye.
Books Actually has an excellent collection of books and other old school memorabilia, including Pez containers, marbles, and other antique-y items you will love to have in your house, if only for the sense of nostalgia they invoke. If you make a trip down to Books Actually, do not miss out the (slightly hidden) room at the back, because that's where I normally spend the bulk of my time. It's astonishing how such a small room can contain so many treasures that I never feel like wanting to leave.
Books Actually also supports local artistes, hosting book signings for singers such as Inch Chua, and being a strong supporter of the movie Ilo Ilo. If you're feeling bored and in need of something to do, why not make a trip down and see what you might find? There are other reasons to support the owners of Books Actually, as a few other contributors mention, so do your part for the Singapore Arts scene today!
If I said it was easy to get to, I'd be lying. We had to cross a few roads, stop a few times to get our bearings, and walk through a few blocks, but we eventually got there safe and sound with some help from our phones' built-in GPS. Technology is so advanced nowadays that one need not fear being lost for long, especially in our Little Red Dot.
Stepping into the store was like stepping into another world. In this world, things went at a slower pace and our only worry was which book to pick up next. I find it hard to explain the feeling I get when I pick up a fresh, crisp book. All I know is that it's a good feeling, and everybody should get the chance to experience it.
At BooksActually, you will be spoilt for choice and can easily spend an hour simply going from shelf to shelf browsing all the different books that catch your eye. Furthermore, for every 3 books you purchase, you get 20% off your total bill! This does not apply to magazines but is nevertheless, a good deal.
This independent bookstore also has a section devoted to vintage CDs and objects from the olden days such as typewriters, old brass keys, porcelain wares and black & white photographs. Walking through this section brought me on a trip down memory lane.
A piece of advice I would give new visitors is to bring along more cash. I found myself feeling a little wistful about not being able to purchase a few books I liked due to an empty wallet. And also, wear something pretty! The alleyways around the area are good spots for impromptu photoshoots with your friends.
I have deep respect for him and what he does; managing this shop on his own (he looks pretty young to be honest, probably still in his twenties or early thirties) and doing his part to preserve what he can of the literary world. This shop doesn't sell modern bestsellers like twillight and 50shades of grey. He mentioned how he takes great pride in sifting out books of literary value and worth and selling them to his customers and the two books I received during the talk are both simplistic yet vintage-looking, beauties to own! (:
This shop is a must visit! Not just for what it is able to provide for you but the history behind its establishment (:
Books Actually stocks books of almost all genres, from history to my favourite, literature. They had the most extensive collection of literature books I had ever seen, at a cheaper price compared to commercialized bookstores such as Kinokuniya. Such quality books, with some out-of-print items are placed alongside each other on wooden bookshelves, for the bookworm to enjoy. Books aside, they sold postcards, notebooks and other quaint and interesting items from Birds & Co. and Math Paper Press, which could be bought as gifts or personal use. Decorated with antique typewriters lining the stairs as well as old metal toys and photo frames with a retro look, this bookstore appealed to me greatly. The owners were friendly and sociable too. (:
I definitely recommend a trip to Books Actually. Who knows, you may find a really old novel which captivates you, or a cute but quaint gift which appeals to your writers' sense. Now that the store is located in Tiong Bahru, it is even more easily accessible too.
Putting their good work aside, the shop itself is a lovely place to patronize. A small little bookstore tucked away in a little corner at Tiong Bahru filled not only with books, but little knick-knacks you can buy. There are a few just as quaint shops around them, and it is definitely a place I would recommend you to go out of the way for.
They also sell vintage items like old jars and postcards, and I love some of the notebooks that they sell. These notebooks usually have interesting designs and some are even handmade!
Sadly, they moved out of their space at Cineleisure, so you might have travel quite a bit to visit their main store at Yong Siak Street. However, it will be a trip you won't regret, especially for literature buffs like me.
While my friend probed around looking at classics, my untrained eye happened to land on Macbeth by Shakespeare, which kept me happily occupied for the rest of my time in the bookstore.
Lesson learnt? Don't be deterred by the bookstore having literature as its specialty, Books Actually is actually a place for everyone. Do give it a visit, you may realise you'll end up spending a gem of an evening there.
The store is located in Tiong Bahru, and the street is not the usual hustle and bustle like how it is in town. Books Actually surprised me with the huge range of poetry and prose they offer - from classics to Poetry editions by local poets and writers. They also sold Epigram Books, and offered the series of plays done by playwrights from Singapore. They sold all sorts of vintage trinkets and on display were typewriters, accessories and even animal masks. The whole place made me swoon in delight. It's rare to see a store sell nearly everything that was on display, and their concept really struck me as clever and strong. I love visiting it, even if I do not have a book in mind to get. I always manage to find something to fall in love with. It's amazing.