When I was in high school, Borders was THE bookstore to go to, with its flagship in Berjaya Times Square Kuala Lumpur spanning a whopping 60,000 square feet of space over two floors – touted as the largest Borders in the world.
But like its parent company in the US (which filed for bankruptcy in 2011), Borders Malaysia has suffered a slow and agonising spiral into irrelevancy over the last decade – no thanks to changing consumer habits, online shopping, and e-books. While they’ve soldiered on for much longer than US Borders, it seems like the franchise (which is owned by Berjaya Group here) is finally dropping a curtain on the Malaysian chapter after more than a decade, with closure in the coming months highly likely.
The remaining Borders stores have been running a sale since late April, and although it is not explicitly mentioned that its a clearance sale, I don’t think they’re selling their stocks at shockingly dirt cheap prices (RM1, RM3 and RM5!!) out of the kindness of their hearts lol.
They also seem keen on just going out quietly, as I wasn’t aware they’re having a sale until members of the local book club (which I’m a part of) posted their recent hauls on FB. Having evolved into my ahjumma form of always seeking out great bargains, I dragged a somewhat reluctant Hubs to Quill City Mall in KL to
serve as coolie help out with carrying the cargo.
Quill City Mall is a pretty dead mall, despite its strategic location in the city centre. Borders is tucked in a far corner of the first floor (actually 3rd floor if you count LG and G), just next to one of the escalators. While the space is not super big, there is a decent selection of books in the form of three island counters and a dozen or so shelves.
I think I came at a less-than-optimal time as some of the shelves were already empty, and was told by staff that a new shipment of stocks will be coming in soon. Wasn’t disappointed, though, as what they had in store that day was quite enough for me!
When it comes to buying books, I usually wait for the annual Big Bad Wolf Sale to get books for cheaper, or I shop at Book XCess, which prices their titles at half the price of what you get at regular bookstores (they are able to do this by getting remainder books from publishers.) But even with BBWS and Book XCess, prices have inflated over the years. Back in 2012, you could get new books for as low as RM8. These days, they’re not that much cheaper than standard bookstores, costing on average RM17.90. Still cheaper, but not that cheap.
So I was understandably hyperventilating in excitement when I saw that everything at Borders was going for just RM1, RM3, and RM5. No bullshit. You probably won’t find new, unwrapped books as cheap as these anywhere else.
The books are not arranged by category, so you’ll have to do the ‘hunting’ yourself. Most of the titles are general fiction, but there’s also lots of young adult fiction and fantasy. If you’re planning to get your money’s worth, I strongly suggest getting a box, which allows you to get everything you can fit into the box for just RM55. The box measures around 50cm long by 35 cm wide by 27 cm high. How many you can get would depend on the thickness and width of your chosen books, as well as how good your packing skills are.
Despite the shop’s small space, it still took me two hours to select the books I wanted. I could literally hear N heaving a sigh of relief when I unloaded my ‘last round’ from the basket into the box. But the kicker was when we got to the counter, we had to unpack all of the books so that they could scan them one by one lol. The box weighed a whopping 17kg, which was quite a task to lug to the car.
Of course, when we got home, the Moomins jokingly remarked about all the books from sales of yesteryears that are still on my TBR list, crying on their shelves.
*A couple of years ago, we installed a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf upstairs (to cater to my uncontrollable book-buying habit), but even that is now running out of space lol.
So how many books did we manage to get?
Thanks to the Hubs excellent packing skills, we fitted a round number of 50 books! I tallied the total we would have spent if we had not bought the box, which would have amounted to RM234. I also looked at the original price tags and tallied how much it would have cost if the books had been sold at their retail price: a staggering RM3,090.56! (USD687) If that’s not a great deal, I don’t know what is.
Here are some titles I got:
I was quite surprised I managed to snag a couple of titles by well known authors like Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Jeffery Deaver, Mark Bowden, and Amy Tan; I figured that these would be the first ones to fly off the shelves once the sales start. I even got a copy of Mortal Engines!
While it’s sad that another mainstay of the book industry in Malaysia will be making an exit, I’m also happy that these books have found a new home. Now, let’s hope that they won’t be languishing in the cupboard for the next couple of years –
The Borders book sale will be ongoing until 31 May 2023, while stocks last. The promo is available at all their outlets, including at Bangsar Village, but the Quill City Mall outlet is the only one with the RM55 Load the Box option.
BORDERS (QUILL CITY MALL)
Lot 1-23, 1st Floor, Quill City Mall, 1018, Jln Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur
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