BookXcess RexKL - Atlas Obscura

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BookXcess RexKL

Kuala Lumpur’s historic single-screen cinema, transformed into a labyrinthine bookstore. 

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BookXcess stores can be found all across the southern Malay Peninsula, from Penang to Singapore, but it’s no cookie-cutter chain all of whose branches look the same. On the contrary, it aims to make each of the locations feel different and unique—a fantastic destination for all book lovers.

The RexKL location that opened in late November 2021 particularly stands out among these. More of a creative art center than a shopping mall, RexKL is housed in a repurposed movie theater originally built in 1947. Once an icon of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, the single-screen cinema with a capacity of 1000 went through numerous fires, first in 1972 and then in 2002, after which the theater went defunct.

A few years later, the former Rex Cinema building was used as a backpackers’ hostel and a karaoke joint until another fire broke out in 2007. It stood all but abandoned for a while, but it was not long before a new project was formed to bring the old Rex Cinema back to life. Reincarnated as a cultural hub, RexKL is home to numerous stores, restaurants, a music venue, and the BookXcess on the second floor, right where the old cinema’s seating area once was.

Shelf after shelf of books cover the concrete walls. Graffiti murals decorate what walls aren’t stacked with books. As you delve deeper into this bibliophilic labyrinth, you will find a staircase leading to the upper level, which used to be the first-class seating area. From there, you can take a peek at the concert stage below, often delivering vibrant live music through rehearsals, an unusual but stimulating bonus to the book haven.

Know Before You Go

BookXcess is located on the third floor of RexKL, within a walking distance from Pasar Seni station.

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