Rejoice, bibliophiles! One of the world's most beautiful bookstores is coming to Malaysia and Tatler has the inside scoop

Tsutaya Books is a cultural phenomenon and internet sensation for its minimalist architecture complete with a spectacular selection of books stacked from floor to ceiling. With more than 1,400 outlets in Japan, Taiwan and China, the Japanese lifestyle bookstore chain is finally adding its first Southeast Asian destination to its roster: Malaysia.

Launching in the second quarter this year at Pavilion Bukit Jalil, the new 31,000 sq ft bookstore is on a mission to cultivate culture and lifestyle by offering a wide selection of books across all genres as well as a curated collection of handpicked designer items, merchandise and stationery. It will also feature a lifestyle café and double as an event space for Japanese art exhibitions and immersive events or workshops. 

See also: Malaysian Author Karina Robles Bahrin on Winning the Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2022

We speak to Hideyuki Uemoto, CEO of Tsutaya Books Malaysia, and Dato’ Joyce Yap, CEO of Retail at Kuala Lumpur Pavilion and retail planner of Pavilion Bukit Jalil about this exciting new bookstore. 

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Hideyuki Uemoto, CEO of Tsutaya Books Malaysia
Above Hideyuki Uemoto, CEO of Tsutaya Books Malaysia

Tsutaya Books is a beloved name globally. What is its special quality?

Hideyuki Uemoto (HU): We're more than just a bookstore. Tsutaya Books is a lifestyle and way of being. We're creating a space for our guests to discover, explore and be inspired as a community through books, merchandise and memorable experiences.

Each Tsutaya Books carries a distinct personality and offers a different concept. No two stores are alike. Tsutaya Books in Pavilion Bukit Jalil aims to cultivate culture and lifestyle, especially among young families in the surrounding areas. We hope to create a space that will evoke curiosity and encourage exploration for Malaysian families and children who love books, design, and art.

See also: 6 Beautiful Bookstores to Know in The Klang Valley

Why did Tsutaya Books choose Malaysia as its first Southeast Asian destination? 

HU: With the goal of cultivating culture and lifestyle, Tsutaya Books’ first store in Southeast Asia needed to reach the right shoppers. Studies have shown that Malaysia has a high proportion of lifestyle-centric consumers with steady spending power. According to a survey by the Ministry of Finance Malaysia in October 2021, the country experienced a GDP growth rate of 5.5 to 6.5 per cent per annum, and Malaysia is ranked third among ASEAN countries in terms of GDP per person in 2021.

For these reasons, we gauged Malaysia to be aligned with our expansion goals internationally.

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'gallery right' 'gallery right'
Photo 1 of 4 Cultivating culture and lifestyle, Tsutaya Books in Pavilion Bukit Jalil will be a multi-purpose space with books, merchandise and a café
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How did the partnership between Tsutaya Books and Pavilion Bukit Jalil come about?  

HU: Pavilion Group is known for creating leading lifestyle destinations and shopping centres in Malaysia. With the latest addition of Pavilion Bukit Jalil, we’ll get to connect directly with our key customers, young, urban families who are also curious consumers.

Dato’ Joyce Yap (JY): Tsutaya Books' flagship store will complement Pavilion Bukit Jalil's aim of providing a holistic and unique retail experience for shoppers. It is more than a bookstore. It is a community-centric space for creativity and culture for people to come together. Families, in particular, can enjoy integrated family-friendly areas and specially designed playgrounds for children including low bookshelves to nurture positive reading habits. 

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Tell us more about the wide selection of books that will be available at Tsutaya Books.

HU: We will carry over 16,500 titles curated by topics that are relevant to Malaysians based on our research. These categories include art, travel, design and style, literature, food, and children’s books. In fact, we will have the largest selection of children’s edutainment products here in Malaysia. 

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Above Tsutaya Books will provide a fun and unique experience for people of all ages

In the digital age, why do you think physical bookstores remain a popular and important touchpoint for communities?

HU: The pandemic has resulted in digital fatigue and consumers are appreciating less screen time and more real time. Our retail environment encourages 'slow living'—the quietude of being present and in the moment. It's a space to retreat from the physical and emotional drain of digital devices. We hope that our highly curated selection of books can be tools to enrich and enlighten the lives of our global community of customers.

JY: Although we can read almost anything online, the satisfaction from reading a physical book cannot be replaced. The touch and feel from physical books can evoke in readers a sense of personal attachment, nostalgia and sentimentality that cannot be duplicated.

Physical bookstores have always played an integral role as cornerstones within communities, providing a place for both children and adults to read, learn and strengthen relationship bonds.


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