Not just for bibliophiles: BookXcess MyTown outlet serves up a comprehensive experience for all to enjoy

RYNNAAS AZLAN
RYNNAAS AZLAN
01 Mar 2022 07:53am
A
A
A

In 2007, husband-and-wife duo Andrew Yap and Jacqueline Ng started what would become Malaysia’s leading book retailer, selling secondhand books to customers nationwide.

Some 15 years ago, BookXcess started out in a 500 square feet store in Amcorp Mall, where it still stands strong today.

With a mission to reinvent and reinvigorate the book industry and instill a love of reading in Malaysians, the two co-founders made the switch from working with magazines to books when they realised that the advent of digitisation will hit the magazine industry the hardest.

“It was not an easy decision to make, as selling secondhand books at such low prices was not a business that had ever been done before,” Andrew said, recalling how the couple gave their first retail store a six month trial to decide whether the business was viable enough to proceed with.

As soon as you step into the store, you will be greeted by a wall filled with pop art, an essential at every BookXcess outlet in Malaysia.
As soon as you step into the store, you will be greeted by a wall filled with pop art, an essential at every BookXcess outlet in Malaysia.

Books had always been something that both puzzled and intrigued Andrew. He confessed that he had always had a complicated relationship with them.

As a child, he was not brought up in a household that placed much importance on reading.

“I thought nothing of it until I enrolled in one of the best schools in Kuala Lumpur, St. John’s, and realised that not reading had its consequences,” he said.

Related Articles:

Surrounded by well-red, well-informed, and articulate students for hours a day and for five days a week brought about insecurities Andrew never realised he even had.

Despite being the biggest mover of books in the world, Andrew chuckled when he told Sinar Daily that it must be funny if people found out that the founder himself does not read.

“I’m not a reader. I never finished a book in my life. I’m also mildly dyslexic, which made it even harder for me growing up.

“But this is exactly why I’m so passionate about the business. I want to show Malaysians that reading can be cool,” Andrew stated.

It was this idea that gave birth to one of BookXcess’ latest retail avant garde stores in MyTown Cheras, where a bookstore is no longer just a bookstore, but a lifestyle and an experience.

In it, the unsuspecting visitor will be able to enjoy buying secondhand books, taking photos for Instagram, check out an art gallery, order a cup of latte at a cafe, get some work done at a co-working space, as well as eat affordable and authentic Japanese food at a family-run restaurant.

BookXcess MyTown was built with the notion that bookstores and physical books aren’t just for bibliophiles, a community that has dwindled in recent years.

Andrew said that the design of the store itself was made to attract customers from all walks of life, but the target market in particular was the younger generation, especially those that grew up with phones in hand.

He knew that to stand out and build a new generation of readers, BookXcess had to be more than just a book retailer.

The 31,200 square feet bookstore is a comprehensive experience made in such a way that customers find themselves spending the entire day in the store, jumping from one spot to another.

The space, which houses more than 170,000 books, is meant to be explored but due to the low prices of the books sold, customers end up leaving with a book or two even if they don’t necessarily read.

“We had to really go all out with it, make the bookstore seem cooler than everything else.

“By having all these spaces within the store itself, and making them Instagrammable too, we can really rope in the customers that need to be convinced,” he explained.

Knowing fully well that many youths favour places that they can whip out their camera phones to take photos of, Andrew engaged designers and told them to “design the store first, and put the books second”.

A key example of this approach was the two-level piazza, where the co-working space is placed. At night, the huge glass windows offer a stunning view of the city down below.

Ume Tei is a family-run Japanese restaurant that offers an affordable alternative to authentic Japanese food in KL.
Ume Tei is a family-run Japanese restaurant that offers an affordable alternative to authentic Japanese food in KL.

Another would be the family-run Japanese restaurant Ume Tei, which Andrew swears every customer must not leave without sampling first.

“This is the only restaurant of its kind in Malaysia, and we are so honoured to collaborate with them.

“The food is authentic, but not crazy expensive. I think our customers can really appreciate that,” he stated.

Describing the brand as a social enterprise and a business, Andrew mentioned that the art gallery is an integral part of the store.

Underneath the piazza is a hidden art gallery that can be accessed via a specially built passageway.
Underneath the piazza is a hidden art gallery that can be accessed via a specially built passageway.

This is because the art put on display is made by struggling artists, who need to sell their art to make a living but found it hard to do so.

At BookXcess MyTown, they can do it for free. Ingeniously curated underneath the co-working space, is a specially built passageway that leads customers to the art gallery itself, where customers can purchase affordable, locally sourced artwork.

Whether you are a bibliophile or not, get ready for an immersive, one-of-a-kind bookstore experience at BookXcess MyTown, open daily from 10am to 10pm, in the township of Cheras.

More Like This