Treasure trove for book lovers


Ooi showing an old comic book from the 1970s at his secondhand book store at Chowrasta Market in George Town. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

CHEAP and old second-hand books are treasures to those who appreciate them.

On the second floor of Chowrasta Market in George Town, Penang, millions of second-hand books await new readers every day.

Store owner Jimmy Ooi, 60, said although business was slow, he still enjoys running his shop.

“Second-hand books may be someone’s giveaway but they can be another person’s new treasure, ” said Ooi at his shop which he has been running for 30 years.

“Some people are looking for things that cannot be found in print anymore. This is what makes print different from digital or web copies.

Mohamed Assalam browsing through a classic Malay book at his second-hand bookstore.Mohamed Assalam browsing through a classic Malay book at his second-hand bookstore.

“Evidently, the reading culture has slowed down over the decades.

“In the 1980s, books were a huge deal. There was no Internet then so people looked for stories and adventures in novels.

““Now we have e-books. Who knows if in the future whether second-hand bookstores will still be around?”

Another store owner, Mohamed Assalam Gulam Mohamed, 37, who has been in the family business for over 15 years, said he still receives a good number of regulars.

“Most who appreciate second-hand books look for classic reads and historical records as well as English and Malay literary pieces.

Shoppers searching for good reads at a store at Chowrasta Market.Shoppers searching for good reads at a store at Chowrasta Market.

“Records are harder to find as they are not printed anymore and some are very old books that most stores do not sell anymore.

“We can still survive as readers who are fans of classic pieces tend to patronise second-hand bookstores more than retail outlets, ” he said.

Self-employed V. Aravintham, 40, who was spotted browsing at a second-hand bookstore, said he often buys second-hand books for his children.

“My wife and I often read to our children at bedtime so we always look for a variety of genres when it comes to stories.

“Reading enables us to spend quality time with our children, ” he said.

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