As if bookstores in Indonesia aren’t few and far between already, the iconic Gunung Agung bookstore chain has decided to close all of its remaining outlets by the end of 2023.
PT Gunung Agung Tiga Belas, the company that owns the bookstore chain, said the chain had been scaling down its operations throughout Indonesia since 2013, due to the increasing operational losses and the declining demand for books.
“The annual revenue hasn’t been worthwhile, and things were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic since early 2020,” said the company in a statement published yesterday.
In 2020, Gunung Agung began closing numerous stores in major cities like Jakarta, Surabaya, Semarang, Bogor, and Bekasi.
Now, only a handful Gunung Agung stores remain in the Greater Jakarta Area, including at Senayan City mall and on Jalan Kwitang in Senen.
Gunung Agung bookstore is one of the oldest and most iconic bookstores in Indonesia. It was founded in 1953 by Tjio Wie Tay, also known as Haji Masagung, who started as a cigarette trader before switching to books.
The bookstore grew rapidly and became a pioneer in publishing and distributing books in Indonesia. It also opened branches in various cities and regions across the country, becoming second only to Gramedia in terms of presence.
Books are hardly a lucrative business in Indonesia. In recent years, we have seen the closure of numerous bookstores, including Aksara and Kinokuniya (bar the Grand Indonesia store). Among the best remaining bookstores in Jakarta, independent or otherwise, are POST, Art&Science, Seumpama, Books & Beyond, as well as the aforementioned Kinokuniya and Gramedia.
In 2016, a Central Connecticut State University study put Indonesia’s literacy rate at 60th out of 61 countries, pointing to a clear lack of literary resources in the country.
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