Sultana Book Store
Tel: 6337 2387
HP: 9850 4019
It is owned and run by Mr Kwok. He is there virtually everyday from 11am to 8pm. But do give him a call if you are dropping by.
For many years, I have been getting my fix there. It is one of the disappearing second hand bookstores in Singapore. From the news, we have heard of many bookstores such as Borders and PageOne at Vivio City having folded up recently.
Soon all those bookstores will be gone. Mr Kwok lamented that he is also about to close his bookstore cuz there are fewer and fewer customers. Most of our young spend too much time on television, internet and the new social media. Whatever time left is spent on their school textbooks and class assignments.
With the long working hours and the endless demands at our workplace in this highly competitive globalized environment, it is indeed a luxury to read a good novel.
From the photos taken you will notice that the place is inundated with books. Books and more books everywhere on the shelves, floor, cabinets, desks, every nook and cranny. If you are on the heavy side, you may not be able to squeeze your way through.
If you are standing in one of the rows of shelves, you’ll need to come out for the other person to get in or out. If you’re not careful and langgar the shelves, an avalanche of books will fall on you. This is the only bookstore that you need to navigate your way gingerly without knocking onto the books or stepping onto the books lying about everywhere on the floor. Really langgar dah!
My advice is you just ask Mr Kwok whatever book you have in mind and he will locate it for you. He knows where he kept it if it is available. No point searching in the maze for your particular book or author.
Sultana bookstore sells all kinds of books i.e. novels, best sellers, travels, magazines, textbooks, literature books, religious and philosophical books etc. There are even some Chinese and foreign languages books.
Mr Kwok is like a walking encyclopedia of books esp novels. Books of bygone era and long dead authors he could even resurrect them for you. He may not have read all those novels but at least he knows some basics or gist of them if you just mention some obscure title or descriptions pertaining to the book you are looking for.
He reads voraciously whilst tending to his bookstore. I have seen some students in school uniform sitting on the floor in a corner browsing those books for hours. He just doesn’t bother at all. He will leave you alone and not chase you out even if you are there to browse freely and treat it like a public library. He is never concerned whether you buy his books. Where on earth can you find such a bookstore?
I still remember some of the authors he recommended me. One of them is Stephen Hunter. On his recommendation, I have read the “47th Samurai” and “Point of Impact”. I must say they are fantastic read. I didn’t know that Stephen Hunter could write about Remington rifles, Sniper and Samurai swords so well. Nobody beats him on that genre. Some of his novels are made into movies.
I ever emailed him to source for a book entitled “The Way of The White Clouds” written by a German Buddhist Lama. It is either out of print or almost impossible to get. He found me 2 copies. It is a moving account of Tibet before the Chinese invasion. I also got a whole set of Dr Lobsang Tuesday Rampa’s books for a song. His books are now out of print. I also bought few copies from him Lost Horizon by James Hilton and “The old man and the sea” by Ernest Hemingway.
Sultana Bookstore has a large collection of religious books catering to all faiths. Even Hindu books about Yogis and Gurus are aplenty. Muslim or Christian books are also available. Most of my Tibetan Buddhist books are bought here. They are very expensive at Evergreen or Awareness Place Buddhist bookstores.
For more than 30 years since my student days, I have patronized Sultana Bookstore which originated from those old pre-war shophouses at Bras Basah Road. It shifted to Peace Centre. Mr Kwok then took over Sultana Bookstore more than 10 years ago. Bras Basah Road shophouses used to be a second hand book lovers’ heaven for students and working adults.
I still remember I used to hang out at the back lane off Rendezvous Hotel where Saint Bookstore was located. It is rather nostalgic for me. Time flies. More than 30 years just slipped by with the blink of an eye!
One reason why I hoard copies of rare books is that soon there won’t be any more hard copy books. It will be in digital format popularized by Amazon’s Kindle and the like. It’s a fact the famous “Encyclopedia” is no longer in production – maybe it’s due to online Wikipedia!
In the near future, most probably during our lifetime, hard copy books will be a rarity and expensive if any especially those out of print valuable collectors’ antique books. I shall play my part by leaving a small legacy of excellent books for my son. Hopefully he enjoys reading or else it will be an exercise in futility.
Mr Kwok certainly enjoys reading. How I wish to be like him when I retire! I could read all the books I want for free and look after a bookstore generating enough income for the rental with some leftover for my daily 3 meals. But it will never be cuz as pointed earlier the book business is a dying trade.
Last Sat (28/1/12), on 6th Day of CNY, I paid Sultana Bookstore a visit. I bought 8 books at only $40. As usual, a red packet was given to him. He refused to collect payment for this little picture. Maybe in lieu of the red packet? I had bought from him a similar one but gave it to my friend Rodney recently.
It’s been quite a while since I last visited Sultana Bookstore. He was gregarious and chatted with me incessantly like a GPMG! He told me that my good friend Freddie Tan came recently and he recommended an old school author to him. He also commented on my blog. Though he can’t read Chinese, he commented there are some Chinese articles on my blog. But that is my style he says.
Suddenly he mentioned that “we have read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series long before it became famous and hogged the local best sellers’ list.” I introduced it to him years ago and told him that he had to read it. He didn’t even know about it’s existence then. I beat him on that. Of course, it was Dr Mike who introduced Stieg Larsson’s books to me. As book lovers, we are of the same mindset. We appreciate each other’s book sense.
When he heard that I planning to blog on his bookstore, he broke the news that he is shifting elsewhere. He will just concentrate on some health products and a small collection of books for his “retirement” plan. He is closing down Sultana Bookstore soon.
I’m not so sure if he sanctions this post. He did tell me not to blog on Sultana Bookstore. But I just can’t resist to document and archive this piece of vanishing scene!
Do check it out before it’s gone like the rest. Grab some of those collectible books for a song before it’s too late.