The Shah Alam Book Tunnel
Until recently, bookstores that are tourist attractions are pretty thin on the ground as they tend to appeal to those for whom books are an everyday part of life. That said, in the last couple of years bookshops that will attract non-readers as well as booklovers have become a reasonably common phenomenon in parts of east and south-east Asia.
The latest example has just opened in Shah Alam (just to the west of Kuala Lumpur) in the Sunsuria Forum shopping mall. It’s from discount bookseller BookXcess and consists of an outsize tube with bookshelves around the inside and outside of the structure. In fairness, the majority of the books that are on view are used as literary wallpaper, but there is little that is wrong with this perhaps, if it increases curiosity about reading matter beyond the confines of a computer screen or mobile device.
And as well as books that can be read, the ‘book tunnel’ is home to a reading room, a café and a mini-maze for children. At a moment when reading might have seemed to be on the decline, stores of this kind might go some way towards arresting the progress towards a society in which books might be seen but are not read.