Feeling adventurous in your pursuit of reading? Our independent publishers and bookstores are here to deliver a varied range of literature to liven up your bookshelf.
Independent (or more commonly known as ‘indie’) publishers and bookstores operate on a smaller capacity and are more receptive or even encouraging towards experimental writing, as opposed to large-scale, mass-producing commercial publishers that churn out popular mainstream titles. Notwithstanding their niche nature, independent publishers and bookstores are ideal alternatives to broaden your reading horizons.
Here are several independent publishers and bookstores to look out for on your next book hunt!
Pssst! Click on their names to go to their respective webpages!
Initiated by local filmmaker Amir Muhammad, Buku Fixi highlights urban, contemporary Malaysian writing and is supported by its imprint, Matahari Books. Besides supplying titles from its in-house subsidiary labels, such as Fixi Novo and Fixi Verso, it also stocks titles from other independent publishers.
With only two outlets in Sunway Putra Mall and Sunway Velocity Mall, which are conveniently accessible from the LRT and MRT lines respectively, Buku Fixi publishes fiction and non-fiction works in both English and Bahasa Malaysia.
Buku Fixi is known for its ‘KL Noir’ anthology series, featuring writings that delve into crime, corruption and other unsettling, gruesome atrocities that manifest in the dark underbelly of Kuala Lumpur. From time to time, it also solicits contributions from emerging and experienced writers alike to be compiled into anthologies, such as ‘Little Basket: New Malaysian Writing’.
Located in the historic city of Georgetown, Penang, Gerakbudaya is committed to offering an extensive, diverse range of titles for the inquisitive reader. Lining its bookshelves are books about Penang, history, culture and politics as well as contemporary fiction and poetry.
Established in 2014, Gerakbudaya stems from an amalgamation of the Bahasa Malaysia terms ‘gerak’ (move) and ‘budaya’ (culture), aligning with its aim to stimulate and mobilise fresh, radical ideas and new forms of cultural engagement among the community.
At Gerakbudaya, readers are able to choose from books with a local focus, such as ‘101 Stories of Old Penang’ and ‘An Introduction to Selected Instrumental Ensembles and Folk Songs of East Malaysia’, to contemporary classics, such as ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘1984’.
Occasionally, it ventures beyond the confines of its outlet in Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling to conduct temporary bookstalls at various festivals happening across Penang, such as the George Town Literary Festival and the George Town Festival.
Silverfish Books is an active advocate of the local writing scene since its establishment in 1999. It currently operates from a cosy, welcoming brick-and-mortar bookstore situated within Bangsar Village 2.
Focusing on literature, philosophy and Malaysian Literature in English, its varied selection of titles encompasses both fiction and non-fiction genres, including academic publications and the annual Malaysia Human Rights Report by Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM). Find reading too tedious a task? E-book versions of several of its titles are available as well.
It publishes the Silverfish New Writing series – volumes of anthologies showcasing outstanding, original new writing by emerging writers from Malaysia and our neighbouring countries. It also invests its efforts into nurturing potential wordsmiths by organising a writing programme for aspiring writers. Good news for budding writers: it also accepts manuscript submissions to be considered for publication!
For more light-hearted reads, Maplé Comics (pronounced Ma-phley) offers comics with local relevance that effortlessly strike a chord with Malaysians.
Started by friends and comic enthusiasts, Amir Hafizi and Fairul Nizam in 2013, it strives to publish and promote comics that embody an engaging storyline and a distinctive identity. Its publications include Komik Ronyok, a comic that has been making its rounds on social media for its irreverent, twisted humour.
Its dedication to and enthusiasm for comics are evident on its Facebook page, whereby its co-founders post weekly insights and musings of the background and contextual information of selected comics.
Founded in 2011, Moka Mocha Ink is a small-scale publisher that publishes its own range of novels, poetry and short story anthologies by local writers.
Furthermore, its imprint, Rorschach Ink, produces literary and photography zines – compact booklets with a minimalist sensibility, inscribed with literary works by local contributors. Among its series of zines are ‘Kerja Tangan’ and ‘Etsetera’.
One of its co-founders, Ridhwan Saidi is involved in theatre, leading it to venture into stage territory. Ridhwan’s efforts culminated in the production of Teater Modular, which comprises of experimental assemblages of segmented ‘playlets’ or mini plays.
Based in SS15, Subang Jaya, Lejen Press aims to provide opportunities for emerging writers to develop their writing talent. Its titles are available on its online store, as well as at its SS15 headquarters and the I AM LEJEN Shop in Terminal Subang Skypark.
Besides committing to print publications, it has expanded its portfolio to include two subsidiaries, namely Lejen Komik and Lejen Stage. Lejen Komik is its comic publishing arm that conceptualises comics based on in-house novels, while Lejen Stage is responsible for overseeing theatre adaptations of Lejen Press’ publications.
It also collaborates with fellow indie publisher, Buku Fixi in the ‘Jelajah Lejen Fixi’ initiative to extend its outreach to a wider readership by travelling to local university campuses and various events across Malaysia to introduce its publications.
Nestled in the heart of Kuala Lumpur near Petaling Street, Moontree House is a concept café that houses a specialty bookstore with an inclination towards literature on feminism and gender studies, in addition to general literature by female writers.
Despite its feminist leanings, a cursory browse of its bookshelves reveals an inclusive treasure trove of fascinating titles in literary theory, film, philosophy, general fiction and literature in translation, among others. A majority of the books are in Chinese, but numerous English titles are also on offer, including ‘Them Horrors Be Everywhere’ by Julya Oui, ‘Seeing Like A Feminist’ by Nivedita Menon and ‘Taboo: Poems’ by spoken word poet Melizarani T. Selva.
True to its roots as a concept café, Moontree House serves a delectable selection of beverages, light meals and cakes, creating a leisurely atmosphere for bibliophiles seeking an urban retreat. Besides that, it also serves as a marketplace for local artists to exhibit and trade handmade handicrafts and provisions.
There are many others too!