It was a long holiday. We, a team of Warung Fiksi, had some writing jobs. So we just researched and wrote, at the office. Unfortunately, you can’t always do the research online. Thus, we also had to hunt some necessary books. We went to several big bookstores in Surabaya: Gramedia, Toga Mas, Rumah Buku, and Uranus, with no result. It’s time to go to Kampoeng Ilmu, then!
In Bandung, Warung Fiksi used to hunt for the old books in Palasari, Dewi Sartika or Cicadas. We can get old books with good price, there. What about in Surabaya?
Books Storage in Surabaya
Here in Surabaya, such heaven lies at Semarang Street, in Kampoeng Ilmu area. There, people sell popular books, comics, textbooks, dictionaries, novels, magazines, new and second hand, in some cheap ranges. That’s why we call it Kampoeng Ilmu, literary means kampong of knowledge.
Kampoeng Ilmu was established in 2008 to localize the book sellers along Semarang Street, Surabaya. It lays on 6,000 square meters area.
When the team arrived, it was at about 10 a.m. Kampoeng Ilmu was really quiet. Many bookstores were still closed. Of course, it was Lebaran! A long holiday for Indonesian citizen.
There is a beautiful garden with two pools of gold fish and freshwater catfish. Unfortunately, it wasn’t maintained well.
Not Only Books in Kampoeng Ilmu
Before searching the books we need, we sat on marquee’s floor. Oh, did we mentioned that Kampoeng Ilmu has an exotic marquee in the front yard?
Apparently, this room is for visitors to rest, to read the books, to discuss, or to enjoy the foods and beverages from the canteen beside. So, we sat comfortably on marquee’s floor. But we couldn’t stay any longer. We smelled something like cat’s feces. Yikes!
We then moved to the library on second floor. From there, we saw that Kampoeng Ilmu is next door to a cemetery (what??). And smell of urine hit her nose near the library. We also found rubbish and the mop in a watered-bucket. So messy! So stinky!
Okay, it was still in holidays, so the janitors might not on their position yet. But no matter the excuse, it’s a homework for Kampoeng Ilmu’s managers to make the visitors comfortable.
Books in Kampoeng Ilmu
Now, how about the core products? It’s dusty, of course. We didn’t mind dusty books, because they are second-hand book stores. It’s forgivable.
But the books, from a stand to a stand there, were quite monotone. Not as various as we had imagined. Few days before, we listed the books about Mr. X. There are about six books, which published in 2005-2009.
“Do you have any book about Mr. X?” we asked a seller in a stand.
“No,” she replied. “But I have a book of Mr. C.”
The girl then showed us the book. But it’s a popular book that, if we want, we can easily buy in every bookstores. So, we searched the books about Mr. X ourselves in the stand. It was really no such titles there, though.
We walked away. Asked another seller. The same answer. We searched it ourselves as well. Nothing. The process repeated.
Thus, like we usually do when searching something in Google and get no satisfied result, we enlarge the search, “Do you have some politic books?”
Too bad. Their answers were still no.
Friendly Advice for Kampoeng Ilmu
We’d like to suggest the managers or sellers to focus on Kampoeng Ilmu’s differentiation: place of second-hand books. It’s okay to sell trending books for the sake of income. Just don’t forget about your unique selling point (USP), unless you will compete with Gramedia, Toga Mas, or Uranus in Surabaya.
It’s always a good idea to enrich Kampoeng Ilmu’s collections with “exotic” books, so Kampoeng Ilmu will be a perfect destination of book hunters and collectors all over Indonesia. Is our expectation is too high?
No! We really wish Kampoeng Ilmu is becoming a better place for people to do the tour of books. Hopefully, in near future, the bookstore becomes more comfortable and beautiful place, with various books.
- photos by Rie Yanti