Indie bookstore BooksActually closing its physical store, but will continue selling books online

The bookstore may be physically gone, but the company wants to ensure its personal touch with customers can still be felt online.

Celeste Lim
Celeste Lim

Yogurt lover with a Spotify playlist for every mood.

Published: 15 September 2020, 9:36 PM

After 15 years, independent local bookstore BooksActually is closing its brick-and-mortar store on Sep 18 and transforming to an entirely online store.

During a Facebook Live broadcast on Sep 14, Kenny Leck, the owner of BooksActually, recounted how the store had to run everything online during the circuit breaker.

Unlike most businesses that had to close due to the pandemic, he realised that the bookstore actually started earning more money. The revelation led to his decision to close the physical shop.

“Nothing beats the fact that the [online] store can give us more traction, in terms of the things we’re doing and the business goals we have,” Kenny said during the Facebook Live, “That’s why we made the transition.”


A firm supporter of Singapore literature, Kenny kicked off his Facebook Live by recommending some books by local authors. PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK/BOOKS ACTUALLY


BooksActually is known for its adamant support of local writers. It has an in-house publishing arm, Math Paper Press, which publishes and distributes works by Singaporean writers.

Kenny is also the co-chair of the #BuySingLit movement, which encourages Singaporeans to buy and read local works.

Located at Tiong Bahru, the shop is also known for its cosy and quaint atmosphere. Regular customers would drop by just to interact with the staff, fondly known as ‘elves’.

Some may be disappointed that there is no longer a physical shop to visit and receive personalised book recommendations. However, you can still ask the staff at BooksActually for help – just message The Book Clinic on Instagram!

Kenny said: “We realised we have been interacting more with you guys in building this community… Having everything shifted online actually increased my interaction.”


The elves at BookActually provide lists of suggested books for any category.


The elves also try to personalise each customer’s online purchasing experience by adding little touches to the packages.

“From the packaging to small handwritten notes, it just makes the whole experience more personal, enjoyable and exciting,” wrote Nikita, a BooksActually elf, on the store’s official website, “It really brightens my day to know that we are still able to give a wholesome experience despite the physical store being closed.”

BooksActually also hopes to continue their highly-anticipated weekly events once Phase 3 of the Circuit Breaker commences.

One such event is the 24 Hour Bookstore, where the store opens overnight. It will feature programmes such as performances, panel discussions and readings.

If you wish to place an order with BooksActually, be sure to do so before Sep 18, 12pm, as all orders placed after that will only be processed after Oct 5.

Before the store closes for good on Sep 18, you can also register for a slot to sketch the interior of the shop.

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