Young readers find sense of community as Indonesia’s literary scene expands

Young readers find sense of community as Indonesia’s literary scene expands

Tucked away in South Jakarta’s traditional market, a small bookshop is changing Indonesia’s literary scene. Inside the cosy space, readers become lost in their books, while others huddle close together to have deeply conversations.

Maesy Ang and Teddy Wijaya Kusuma launched POST Bookshop and Press with all the concept of cultivating an area for meaningful discussions and creative growth. The store soon developed a cult subsequent, partly  due to  its signature choice of books, but also mainly because Jarkarta is becoming the literary hotspot within Asia.

“We have always had an idea that the bookshop must be an area for our readers and friends to meet and share, ” Wijaya Kusuma said, as he sipped a cup of freshly brewed tea. “It felt like the stroke of fortune, ” Ang chimed in, recalling  the very first time they encountered the area that would evolve to their bookshop.

The couple launched their bookstore in 2012, but it provides recently  become one of the premiere alternative areas in Jakarta.  

With all the growth of self-employed bookstores and the reopening of the long-anticipated Perpustakaan Jakarta Cikini , the government funded general public library in Cikini, Central Jakarta, visitors have been flocking in order to quench their thirsts for a space which allows them to engage, work together, and congregate along with like minded enthusiasts.

That which was once a city along with lack of access to open public space for readers, Jakarta has transformed into a friendlier city to literary fanatics. Local government and self-employed actors are working to improve the literary scene, and POST Bookshop is spearheading the way in which forward.

One of the shop’s regular visitors, Ega Annisa Rizti, has been frequenting the bookshop since 2018.

“I remember seeing a small store filled with books among the many meals kiosks, and I just had to go inside, ” Rizti mentioned, beaming with exhilaration. “They have great selections of textbooks and friendly staff members that always give me useful recommendations. ”

Aside from pulling in new customers, the few have been publishing 1 book a year via their publishing provide, POST Press.

“We wish to publish books that are evergreen, and advertise our books in such a way that [they] will always be on our shelves, ” said Wijaya Kusuma.

POST bookshop and POST Push owners have held a pulse around the evolving literacy picture, giving a tone of voice to new nearby authors who, in the past, may have been suppressed by the government. Photo: Nisya Kunto for Southeast Asia Globe

The couple decided “to go slow, ” and to be intentional about the books they will wanted to publish. It’s important for them to purchase books that they trust in, and true to their particular words, eight years later, POST Bookshop still carries the earliest book they actually published.  

One of SUBMIT Press’ published authors, Mikael Johani, launched his book “ We Are Nowhere and It’s Incredible ” in 2017. As the owner of Paviliun Puisi, a poetry event platform, Johani has been around the literary picture for almost two decades.

“It was all down to understanding that I was going to work together with people I can believe in and believe in artistically, ” Johani stated of working with Ang and Wijaya Kusuma

An independent publisher provides the benefits of a more intimate and personal experience, a rarity in the bustle of Indonesia’s capital, Johani noted. He described that in the past, several books would be suppressed by the government, but that is changing. Indonesian writers, and marketers, and readers have got continued to find a way to write, publish, plus talk about topics that may be challenging or even controversial. Along with the current era of literary actors, the scene continues to flourish with a constant stream of distribution, featuring titles addressing various themes and issues. “People normally find a way, ” mentioned Johani.

“Currently, the picture is quite healthy in terms of being able to talk about what ever, ” he ongoing. “Queer literature has a place, even main publishers openly submit them. Subversive stuff that is critical towards the authorities are also still being published. Censorship is stereotypical, but it couldn’t be further in the truth. ”   

The particular recently revitalised open public library has increased its visitors in its first month of operation. Accessible by various public transportation modes, the library hosts over 600 visitors on weekdays, and up to at least one, 500 on week-ends.  

“We are currently encountering an uptick of over 300% daily visitor increase, and they are trying our best to manage the flow plus experience for our guests, ” said Sulistiorini Fakdilah, an official which works at the open public library.  

The library has collaborated with the Australian Embassy for a children’s reading corner and a creative creating masterclass.   The Jakarta government is also pushing for a digital reading program called Titik Baca (Reading Points); they will aim to spread fifty Titik Baca across the city. The neighborhood government is also about to continue revitalising various other local libraries, starting with the South Jakarta City Library in 2023.  

Visitors look for books during the Big Bad Wolf book exhibition in Jakarta. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

A modern literary tradition

Philippines consists of thousands of island destinations and hundreds of different ethnic groups plus languages. This makes a diverse literary culture.  

Luki Wijayanti, the library sciences lecturer at Universitas Indonesia, believes that libraries should represent most variations of Indonesia’s population. Wijayanti stated that literature is not limited to acquiring information through physical books, he or she believes knowledge is definitely acquired from electronic media, spoken lifestyle, and various activities in which people congregate.  

“Indonesia has its very own culture of learning, which is a spoken lifestyle, ” Wijayanti said. “It is unfair to use foreign indicators when the local lifestyle is inherently different. ”

She advocates  the particular promotion of electronic literacy paired with social welfare.   In order to  improve education, civil society and local volunteers could also work to  raise literacy rates in rural areas.

Back at POST Wijaya Kusuma said the particular culture of 3rd party bookshops are trying to meet the growth and demand of the literary scene.

“I believe small independent bookshops are thriving internationally, especially during the pandemic, ” he stated, pointing out expanding demand.  

Ang and Wijaya Kusuma plan to continue nurturing the small space to focus on enthusiastic readers through all walks of lives.  

“The initial idea was so people can speak with other strangers, find books they didn’t know they might such as, and feel just a little less lonely within this crazy city known as Jakarta, ” Ang said.