It’s as if this bookstore came straight out of my fantasy novel-fueled dreams. BookXcess, a Malaysian bookstore chain, opened its newest branch in November 2021 on the second floor of REXKL, a creative and cultural hub in Kuala Lumpur.
A glimpse of the old building beckons the bookworm or traveler. Semi-hidden behind small trees and hawker stalls, it is brought to life with murals and colorful signages. A path of yellow dots painted on the brick flooring leads to the entrance, where you’ll see Stellar (a café), BilaBila Mart (a convenience store), and another path that takes you to the food hall called The Back Ground. Outside the entrance, you’ll find a silver food truck and Stellar Coffee’s extended dining area.
Dilapidated elements of the building were kept as is, such as vintage signs on chipping tiled pillars, exposed ceilings, and unrestored staircases.
Several signs point to BookXcess, which starts on the second level. The route up is a little adventure on its own. Look around to see printed posters of REXKL events, murals, and witty signages.
Hold your breath as the glass door welcomes you to the labyrinth that is BookXcess REXKL. Towering bookshelves are arranged like a maze, where getting lost is part of the fun. If you’re used to the business establishments in Manila, you’ll be surprised and relieved to notice that nobody—not a single security guard or saleslady—is eyeing you or following you around to ask you what you want every minute, not even if you pose and take a zillion photos like an influencer on the staircases.
If you’re there for the ‘gram, there are many nooks and crannies to explore. Look for the glass floors, tunnels, and hidden uneven staircases. Be careful not to slip!
If you’re there to add to your “books to read” pile, you’ll find an assortment of titles, from familiar authors to unique titles that BookXcess is known for. The best part is the price tags. How can these books be so affordable? The prices go even lower every payday and during special sales. According to the founders, their mission since 2007 is to make books accessible and affordable. They purchase overprint books, also known as remainder books, from publishers for a discounted price. They’re all brand new—no secondhand books.
As you enter the main area of the bookstore, an eerie feeling will creep up on you, almost like the chilling sensation you get as you turn the pages of a thriller or sci-fi title. Don’t worry; that giant dark area is not a dungeon, but what used to be the screen and lower section of the old Rex Cinema. That place lights up when there are events and exhibitions.
But wait, there’s more! Go up and keep exploring to find the top view of the bookstore, plus more hidden titles and artworks. Once you’ve purchased your book of choice, you may read it at the bar and restaurant overlooking Jalan Sultan on the third level.
If you’re looking for a straightforward bookstore where everything is rightfully organized according to genre and author’s last name, then you’re better off at the malls. But if you’re looking for an escape, a slight suspension of disbelief as you find the perfect book in a labyrinth lurking in a dark old building, then BookXcess in REXKL is for you.
BookXcess is located at the 2/F of REXKL, Jalan Sultan, Downtown Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It’s open from 10pm to 10pm from Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday; and from 10am to 12am from Friday to Saturday.
Read more about my Malaysian adventure at Spot.ph: