First published on 9 Apr 2010. Updated on 21 Apr 2010.
Deyana Goh is only 25, but already a practised hand at sorting through old, rare books. And by ‘old and rare’, we mean genuinely scarce. The founder and proprietor of Gohd Books has an out-of-print, three-volume English-edition, Soviet-era copy of Marx’s Das Kapital; hardcovers on mysticism; esoteric Shi’ite texts; a positively medieval-looking hardback of Henry James’ The Ambassadors; and crumbly Sanskrit manuscripts wrapped in plastic.
Goh opened ‘shop’ last March – first operating out of Serangoon Road – but has since relocated to a quiet residential area in Pasir Panjang; customers visit the shop-in-her-living-room by appointment.
‘It grew out of my own collection,’ she says. ‘I don’t advertise…but [the shop] has spread through word of mouth and friends of friends. I’m not trying very hard to get walk-ins.’ Interestingly enough – particularly during the internet age – Goh doesn’t usually source via Amazon, hand-picks every title in the shop, and provides a rare-book-ordering service with a flat shipping fee for discerning readers.
‘Some of my books you can’t find on Amazon,’ she explains. ‘I contact suppliers overseas, and sometimes I travel and hunt for books. I went to India three times last year and found some really rare stuff.’
If you’re feeling linguistically adventurous, besides dealing in books, Goh also facilitates language lessons in Sanskrit and Classical Chinese (which probably helps in reading some of her more unusual tomes). ‘I don’t teach, but I help the teachers find students,’ she explains. Her favourite bookstore? ‘Bargain Books…I don’t really like the big chains.’
Gohd Books, 5A Pasir Panjang Close (9090 6181, www.gohd.com.sg). Visits by appointment only.
This story first appeared as 'Can't beat a Gohd book' in TOS (April 2010)