New Gramedia Bookstore: Matraman, Jakarta, West Java

Let me lose in a bookstore and you have lost me for the whole day. I can browse through the bookshelves with utmost joy and I simply adore the fresh odour of newly printed paper. Yeah I know, bizarre, but it’s the reading I like. Candika, my wife, hates it when I disappear into a place of tomes. She reckons my study/office looks more like a library! There are numerous bookstores in Jakarta and one of my favourites is Gramedia. Now, I am elated with the opening of a branch in Matraman, East Jakarta.

According to the article in the Jakarta Post it is massive and I am so looking forward to checking the place out. Here’s more:

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially reopened Gramedia’s newly refurbished main book store Friday in Matraman, East Jakarta.

Claiming to now be the largest book store in South East Asia, at 7,097 square meters, the store has some 130,379 titles in its collection.

Kompas Gramedia president commissioner Jakob Oetama said Gramedia planned to build 20 new outlets (adding to its existing 81), including stores in Papua and Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.

The event also saw the launch of the President’s second book, Indonesia on the Move, which is a compilation of his speeches and articles from late 2005 to late 2006.

“I am proud, as we all should be, that we now host the largest book store in Southeast Asia,” the President said in his speech.

“And I am proud to be here, to be a part of this event which will enhance our nation’s interest in reading,” he said.

Oetama said reading and writing skills were imperative.

“Reading and writing is a key, determining the development and advancement of civilizations and culture. It is a ‘conditio sine qua non’ … for survival in today’s technological era,” he said in his opening speech.

Indonesians have a relatively low interest in reading and writing compared to neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Oetama said.

There were some 18.1 million illiterate people in Indonesia, according to data from the Education Ministry. These were predominantly children, however 4.35 million among them were aged between 15 and 44 years.

According to Jakarta City Administration, around 1.2 percent of Jakartan cannot read.

“Our nation’s reading culture needs to be examined, not to discourage us but to strengthen our spirits and provide real enhancement in reading and writing,” Jakob said.

There are 600 book stores in Indonesia, of which 160 have a national network while the remainder distribute to local areas, Jakob said.

Of some 1,200 publishers, 800 are members of Indonesia’s Publisher Organization (IKAPI). Some 10,000 books are published in Indonesia each year.

The opening also saw the inauguration of the Gerakan Gemar Membaca (It’s fun to read) program, by First Lady Ani Bambang Yudhoyono who open the first book drop-box in Gramedia’s Matraman store.

Anyone will be able to drop new or 2nd hand books in drop boxes placed in every Gramedia book store in Indonesia. All books received would be donated to needy children.