I recently stepped into a sustainable second hand bookstore Books Beyond Borders located in the northern part of Singapore, and it was an unpredictable experience – in a good way.
As a writer I find it very hard to not go into bookstores – and even harder to not buy anything. Whenever I come across a second-hand bookstore this problem gets infinitely worse. How can you resist buying a few long-wanted books that are realistically budget-friendly? Well, you cannot.
However, the appeal of this bookstore extends far beyond finding a bargain book.
Books Beyond Borders is a social enterprise cum online bookstore based in Singapore. It sells second-hand books in the hopes of giving pre-loved books a new lease of life, and more importantly, to raise money for underfunded schools in Nepal. 100% of their profits after business expenses are invested in organisations helping students learn, read, and lead in rural schools. With each and everyone's support at The Books Beyond Borders, more underprivileged children would get to enjoy the luxury of reading.
The entire space at The Books Beyond Borders is not big but it creates a very cozy environment accompanied with jazz music playing in the background for people to dig deep into a book search at your own pace. You can expect a photo exhibition too, and you'll get the chance to learn more about the literacy projects Books Beyond Borders is helping to fund in Nepal.
I like the randomness of the books on the shelves – the never-ending stream of books. Without spending a lot, I’ve managed to bag many treasured books from this bookstore.
Of course, second-hand bookshop trips are not always positive experiences. You can’t go with a shopping booklist and it is wise to keep an open mind. Looking for a specific book title or author might prove fruitless. But I must confess to liking the process of not knowing what you might find is actually all part of the fun.
And many books are, in fact, new and unread – donated by previous owners, or by people who have simply changed their mind about keeping the books after reading. A book gets a new lease of life rather than ending up in landfill. You may gain accidental good books, which hold value and endure. Sometimes, the most loved, precious books are hard to find, the same goes to life in general. They find you, and they improve with age and familiarity. And that is something that can’t be bought in an instant, off the shelf.
As the profits from the Books Beyond Borders going to good causes, it (and anyone who shops in it) is also helping to save the planet. There are several ethical and social reasons to support second-hand / thrift / charity bookstores and shops. Waste not, want not, as the old saying goes. They are a dependable source of low-cost, good-quality recycled and almost new items.
With many nations pledging to decrease the amount they send to landfill year on year, recycling rates around the world are on the up, but the process still uses huge amounts of energy. It is possible to make a small contribution, however, by thinking about whether items can be reused, repaired or recycled first – and a great place to do this is a second-hand shop.
So if you have any novels collecting dust, self-help books that you’ll never read again, and wonder what to do with all these old books you no longer need but can’t bear to just throw away, why not pass them on to The Books Beyond Borders who can give them a new lease of life? In doing so, you can declutter your home and save the environment, while helping to improve the lives of others at the same time.
No matter whether you are just browsing or are actively working on your private library-like collection, step into Books Beyond Borders in Singapore to buy used books is a ticket to another world. Very importantly you will be helping to raise funds by buying one or more used books for many good causes.
Finally, it is time to get yourself pumped up for The Book Barracks, a weekend book fair organised by Books Beyond Borders. Please note that no walk-ins are allowed, so do head over to their website or Instagram page to get yourself an RSVP voucher. Each voucher costs $5 and can be used to offset your bill for your books on that day. Don't forget to bring along a tote bag too.
Currently, there is a selection of more than 150 novels going for a dollar each. If that is not enticing enough, you would also be able to browse through over 4,000 curated novels priced at $5, $7 and $10. You can also browse through its online catalogue of books at its website with various finds.
Book donations of old and new English books for children and adults (fiction and non-fiction) that are still in good condition are accepted and valued on-the-spot.
Address: 41 Jalan Pemimpin, #03-01E Kong Beng Industrial Building, Singapore 577186 (5 minutes walk from Marymount MRT Station) - very near to Raffles Institution School.
Have fun in reading !