The pace of slow travel starts by paying a visit to bookstores. Instead of travel on a busy schedule, I prefer to slow down and enjoy spending hours in bookstores, where I have taken pleasure indulged in the smell of books and cozy feeling of peace. Followed by the rise of e-book movement, the conventional bookstores are literally dying everywhere. However in penang, there’s still group of people who silently defend for the traditional beauty of reading paper books and continue to cultivate this crucial part of culture. Missing the scents of ink on printed books or tactile experience of turning a page? Here’s the 4 great bookstores in Penang that are just waiting to be explored!
1. Gerak Budaya
A stroll down Penang “Street of Harmony” where peppered with various place of worship, a corner shop that painted in canary yellow will catch your eye at the first signt – it’s Gerak Budaya Bookshop! As the first independent bookstore in Penang, the starting point is not easy – the founder Gareth Richard (a native-born person with mixed ancestry of British Nyonya; he was a former university professor and now works as the senior editor of the Strategic Information & Research Development Centre / SIRD) had face opposition on all sides for his decision to open a bookshop. “Georgetown, as the UNESCO Historic Site, didn’t even have an independent bookstore.” – this had foster him to go from idea to reality. A bell ticked to greet you when entered this lovely shop; despite the store’s small size, the large selection of over 5,000 titles in stock ranges from books about Penang to current affairs and politics, Southeast Asian studies etc, sure to pique your interest. Against all odds, Gerak budaya continues to thrive; their first branch was finally opened in 2018 too!
Address：78, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.
Operation Hour：11:00am – 08:00pm
Contact：04 261 0282
Gerak Budaya Branch
Address：226 Lebuh Pantai, George Town, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Operation Hour：11:00am – 08:00pm
Contact：04 261 8001
2. The Nook Books & Coffee
This bookstore cafe is perfect for those who love to read over a cup of coffee, cuppa or some light refreshments. The word “Nook” is indicative of a corner or recess; just like its store name, it is situated in a rather hidden corner, where you might easily miss it! The space is divided into 2 parts: one for comfy seating in a standard cafe setting; while explore further you’ll find a little library at the other side! After pass through a tiny door, you’ll see bookshelves stuffed with books hosting a selection of various titles in different themes and most of them are pre-owned by the founder here. It’s an excellent rest stop after a day in the city, where you can curl up with a good book in a genteel ambiance.
Address：4, Halaman Khoo Cheow Teong, George Town, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Operation Hour：11:00am – 11:00pm（Monday to Friday）；09:00am – 11:00pm（Weekend）；Closed on Tuesday
Contact：012 525 2762
3. Naja Concept Book House
Naja Concept Book House from Bukit Mertajam is the one and only indie bookstore located at mainland Penang. It can be easily distinguished by its unique style – build in the form of traditional Malay House that raised on stilts high above the ground, and undeniably it’s just the cutest spot due to its yellow-painted exterior! Lai HuiJia, who has lived in Suzhou China for 3 years, love walking into the bookstores there and enjoyed getting lost in these walls of literary refuge; hence she decided to open her own bookstore after returned to Malaysia. There are well-curated list of books displayed on the shelves, while most of the books here are voluntarily donated by public. Apart from books, they also served you with incredible delicious food (everyday a different menu; meal of the day will be updated to their official Facebook page on daily basis). Be prepare to stick around all day long!
Address：17, Jalan Asmara, 14000 Bukit Mertajam, Pulau Pinang
Operation Hour：10:30am – 06:00pm（Close on Tuesday）
Contact：010 464 2182
4. Book Xcess
This mega bookstore is definitely one of the hottest instagrammable spot in Penang lately! Located on the 7th and 8th floors of Gurney Paragon, Book Xcess is known as the largest bookstore in Penang, features the longest (70 metre in length) and tallest (10 metre high) two-storey bookshelves in Malaysia! Please don’t forget to take pictures, because this place is beyond stunning and a true feast for the eyes. Book Xcess Penang is absolute a dreamy – on top of its extensive collection of million books, there are also comfy seating area, cozy reading corner for children that facing ocean view, Cafe Wolf for you to sit back & relax and the art gallery where you can absorb the artistic aura; everything here is just a welcoming charm! Looking to escape from city hustle and bustle? Then you should not miss out this book haven!
Address：7th & 8th Floor, Gurney Paragon Mall, Penang
Operation Hour：10am – 10pm