Where To Buy Books In Singapore (Without Going Broke Or Leaving Your House)
STORY: Diane Lam
20 September 2022
Yeah, I know. This is an extremely specific title, but if you’ve ever had to choose between a book haul at Kinokuniya or taking Grab for the next month, then you’ll know what I mean #inflation. And while Singapore has an abundance of secondhand bookstores, finding what you’re looking for beneath stacks of ten-year series can be a dusty, time-consuming endeavour.
Thankfully, books have become more accessible than ever, given the advent of e-commerce — and I’m not just referring to Book Depository. As much as I appreciate the free delivery to Singapore, the two-to-three-week waiting time and high prices have driven me to look elsewhere before buying from them.
But during the pandemic, when we had no choice but to stay indoors, I managed to find a few places with cheap (or even free) delivery and heavily discounted prices. And what can I say: good things must share. If the words bookworm, hermit, and “on a budget” apply as much to you as they do to me, here are some wallet-friendly places where you can order your next read without ever leaving the couch.
We interviewed the CEO of Thryft, Singapore’s first sustainable online bookstore, in 2021. Since then, they’ve not only continued to host monthly book bazaars, but they’ve amassed a formidable number of titles, which include deals under $6. New and popular books are in short supply and sell out quickly, so you might want to check their website regularly if you’re looking for something specific, but with more than 15,000 titles available online, you’ll surely find an item or two to your liking.
Bonus: If you need a bit of offline retail therapy, you can head over to their pop-up, Second Story, where you’ll find preloved books starting from $3.
This clearance bookstore has over 30,000 titles available online, in a variety of genres, and with some books up to 90% off. While the books are mostly in new condition, as clearance stock, they might have a little bit of wear and tear (think minor dents and scratches after months on the shelf). Still, it's a small price to pay given all of their discounts.
Want to buy books on a budget while supporting a good cause? Then check out Books Beyond Borders, which describes itself as a social business that supports educational opportunities in the developing world. Not only do they host regular weekend booxhibitions, where you can buy gently-used books to help support classroom projects in Nepal, but you can also shop online for titles that go for as low as $5.00 (offline, you can get them for as low as $3!). Plus, you get free local express delivery for orders above $25, so spend away.
This could be a whole article in and of itself, but it should come as no surprise that Carousell has over 100,000 listings of books, stationery, and magazines. You’ll find plenty of sellers trying to offload their unwanted books – I recently nabbed an almost-new hardcover for $10, a huge steal considering that a brand-new copy cost $36 on BookDepository – but here are some other useful profiles you should follow:
- Sellers coordinating group buys: You might need to wait a few weeks for the bundles to come in, but the discounts are total worth it. (For instance, a new paperback copy of TikTok bestseller The Love Hypothesis costs $18.95 at Kinokuniya, but $8 from this Carousell group buy.)
- Carousell booksellers: These are people whose profiles are wholly dedicated to books, and who operate almost like indie online bookstores. Their listings are often organised by genre or by the condition of the books, and you’ll get great prices and quick deliveries, since these are from local sellers. For example, a paperback, copy of Atomic Habits costs $26.15 on BookDepository and $29.91 at Kinokuniya, but only $12.90 on this Carousell bookstore.
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