If picking out a book at a store could be compared to going on a date, then Books Actually’s vending machine mystery books ($19) are like hitting up a blind date off the internet. Fast paced and fuss free for the busy Singaporean. Oh what an exciting time to be a reader!
Woody, earthy and even sweet, nothing quite compares to the smell of new book. I’ll proudly admit to smelling and spending extended periods of time analysing the choice of paper and covers.
But, you may be wondering what a blind date with a book is like, or how it even happens. It is quite simply, a book simply wrapped up to hide its identity. An insistence on the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”.
At Books Actually, your mystery date awaits you in a vending machine. Wrapped up in repurposed pages from a jotter book. They’re labeled with serial numbers that you’ll have to punch in when making your purchase — it’s the only choice you’ll get in this transaction.
I couldn’t commit! Or so I thought as I stared at the machine before parting with my $19 — but that’s the thrill of it, no preview or judgement, till it drops out of the machine.
With book in hand, you can spend an afternoon lounging in a cafe with or even better — straight to your bed.
Besides the vending machine located right outside Books Actually, two other machines by the local book shop are located at the National Museum and Substation.
Vending machines and mystery book blind dates aside, Books actually is where you’ll find the richest curation of books by local authors and all things creative. The vending machines themselves house and dispense only local pieces of work.
Tucked away in one of the best neighbourhoods in Singapore for culture vultures — Tiong Bahru. This little book shop has high shelves and books stacked high.
Wandering further into the shop, you’ll see a doorway leading to an area full of antiques, stacked just as high if not higher than the books.
Snooping about, I found everything from old Chinese medicinal oil bottles to an army medal. Perfect gifts for anyone who’s a sucker for all things vintage and nostalgic — or a hoarder.
I’ve spent hours at a time, and perhaps even days reading without putting a book down. Save for the calls of nature. Books Actually is a nice reminder that books are well and truly alive in Singapore.
From one book lover to another, Books Actually is not only worth checking out but, is a special little spot for the local writing community and a great place to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle to browse the shelves for good ol’ down time.
Price: S$19 per mystery book