Friday, December 12, 2014

Another Year, Another Big Bad Wolf.


 I look forward to seeing this banner show up on my Facebook feed every year now.

Books. I like books. No, that's not true. I love books. Nothing like a good book to fill your head with ideas, new worlds, new ways of looking at things. And they make better movies than when they're actually made into movies.I've read lots of book, bought lots of books, borrowed lots of books. I read everything, almost everything that is. 

But buying books in Malaysia is a ridiculous prospect. Books in Kuala Lumpur are expensive, especially new releases of international best sellers and they stay expensive for years. Hardback books cost anything from RM50 and above and paperbacks cost upwards of RM35 and it wouldn't be so bad if it was good but what if you ended up with something disappointing? Of course you're thinking that's not that expensive but honestly it is. Unless you're an executive or upper management and making that kind of money you probably will think twice about buying a book you want at the local Borders living here in Malaysia.

So it was a blessing for us book nerds in Malaysia when the kind folks at BookXcess in 2009 decided to have a good old warehouse sale of the books that they have in stock. Now BookXcess themselves sell books cheaper than most of the other bookstores in town, up to 80% cheaper in some cases and they're new books, not old or second hand or damaged books. The only thing that you may not find at BookXcess is very new books. Not all the time anyway. But that's BookXcess the store and online store as well now. Then as I mentioned before they decided to have a warehouse sale where they would drop the prices of the books they carried all the way up to 90%!! Now for a book nerd that's a bargain.
I'm card carrying member of BookXcess but ever since the Big Bad Wolf sale I haven't shown them much love.

How do they manage to do this? Well, remember when I said that they don't necessarily have new books all the time? Well, honestly they aren't, for example, if say a new book comes out and shows up on a shelf at Borders, BookXcess will probably only get it after about 6 months to a year is my guess. Why is this so? Well, what BookXcess does to make cheaper for us poor book nerds is they buy books that are still new but still unsold for whatever reason by the publisher or by other bookstores. They buy them in bulk and at wholesale price. They then take those books to sell it to us book nerds at a reduced cost. Good for us, right? But, once a year, and probably because publishers, bookstores and other related folks have so much leftover stuck in their warehouses BookXcess buys a whole load of them and hosts their own big, blowout book sale calling it the Big Bad Wolf Books Sale!!

Now, I haven't really been a patron of the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale from the beginning. If this old brain remembers correctly it's only been the last couple of years that I've been going and this year it'll be the third year in a row and for the last three years they've been having it at the Malaysia International Exhibition & Convention Centre (MIECC) at the Mines. And baby do I love it!! There's just so many books. It boggles the mind! I'm like a kid in a candy store. And because the books are so cheap I don't put a limit to how many books I pick or how much I'm willing to spend. It's so much fun!!

Now, I'm sure those that go to these sort of thing have a game plan. They check the websites, look at the titles and hunt them down. Me? No such thing. I just wander up and down the isles, sometimes twice and pick up whatever looks interesting. And if those look interesting and after a brief flip through sound interesting as well it goes in my bag. And last year the experience got a whole lot better. It lasted for a little over a week and it would stay open all day and all night. That means you can wander it to that big beautiful hall full of books at any hour of the day and spend as many hours as you want looking at all those books. That to me was like book heaven.

Now you're probably wondering how cheap could those books be? Well, I think I wrote a little about this in a book review post a while back but for a book in the fiction genre and in paperback form it's RM8, that translate to a little over a couple of bucks in American dollars and a little over a pound if you live in Britain. For hardcovers in the same genre it's about RM10 so not that much difference. A real bargain, right? But the thing about the Big Bad Wolf Sale is that if you look hard enough you'll find some gems as well for dirt cheap. Like a book by Richard Dawkins, the biography of George Carlin or even a book by Erich von Däniken. 

For all the books that they've got arranged all nicely for you to browse through they have tables set aside where books are left unsorted and arranged without rhyme or reason and it's here that if you take the time to look through you might find some cool books. The other really cool thing that happens is that you could visit the book sale two days in a row and you might find something new! They put out a handful of new books daily. So it's whole lot of fun!! Last year if I remember correctly we went on two weekends and went two days in a row. Does that make sense? We went on a Friday night and the following Saturday night and did it again the next weekend!!

This year though my significant other and I managed to go only on the first Friday of the book sale and spent almost six hours browsing through what they hand. I walked away with about a dozen books and my better half about 4. Yeah, I'm that much of a book nerd. In fact, for every trip that I make I walk away with about a dozen books or so. Which is also the reason why we didn't go the following Saturday. I'd just buy more and give myself a huge backlog of books to read. But that doesn't mean I'm not going again before it ends this year.
So yeah, the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale. A book sale to end all books and the one time a year where I shop without limits and shop like a kid in a candy store. I buy enough books to last me for a year or more and it cost me less than buying two or three new books at a Borders. I mean for about RM100 I can walk out with a dozen books! That's awesome, right? I hope that BookXcess and the folks that run the Big Bad Wolf Sale never stop what they're doing. Not only is it amazing to be able to buy really good books for bottom of the barrel prices but it makes reading so much more accessible to everyone. And I do mean everyone. And it's so heartening to see so many people show up at the sale. I've been to it three times as I've mentioned and going there at different hours of the day and there's always a huge crowd. 

People say that Malaysian don't read much anymore, well the folks at BookXcess and Big Bad Wolf are helping change that. And that's a good thing. What better place for a book to end up in  if not in the hands of someone who can appreciate it. If it wasn't for these guys and their magnanimous efforts, those books would end up in the garbage, in a furnace, recycled for toilet paper or who knows what. But now, because everyone can afford it they can at least be read, appreciated and maybe inspire someone to do something or be something more. And that's always good. Books can do that.
So this year's Big Bad Wolf Book Sale happens from the 5th to the 16th of December which means that this weekend is the last weekend and I plan to be there one last time. Hopefully, there'll be more cool books to discover among the piles.




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