Sunday, September 10, 2006

Happiness is Book-Shaped

Okaylah. I went for a second round. This time I gave book browsing my full attention and came away with 22 more books, most of them hardback (total cost RM80).

Some were replacements for copies that have gone "walkies" over the years (the Bainbridge, the Burgess). The Annie Proulx Close Range is a hardback illustrated copy to replace the age-spotty favourite paperback. Then there are books by writers I haven't actually tried yet: Anne Lamott, Elizabeth Berg, E.L. Doctorow (I know! I know!), Jay McInerney.

I hadn't read Betty Friedan before (I just heard Sharanya gasp in horror, I think) but can't put down The Fountain of Age (written for old ladies like me, not for the likes of you).

Happiness is book-shaped. And at prices like these, a reader can afford to experiment.

For example. I feel inspired by the note left by Fei in the comments today. She said that she was Chinese educated and only used to read a couple of English books a year - but thanks to Pay Less, she's taking a risk on writers like Primo Levi, Katherine Anne Porter, Walker Percy.

And then this morning, I got chatting to a guy called Justin and his wife, they were filling box after box with the best literary fiction they could find. (I was jealous 'cos they got to a copy of Underworld before me. But that didn't stop me shoveling "must reads" onto their pile.) Justin was in the shipping line and used to scour the port cities of the world for bargain books. He used to love biographies and is a recent convert to fiction ... now with a personal library of pretty good stuff to get him started.

I met a little boy called Arjun as I was sitting on the floor sorting out my pile. He wanted to show me his books too, a whole basket of them that his mum (browsing the cookbooks) had found for him.

The point I'm making is that it is the availability of plentiful, good quality, astonishingly cheap books that will create a generation of readers. Heck, it will probably do more than all the formal reading programmes laid end to end.

MPH, Times, Kino, Popular ... don't look so worried lah. Once these guys have had their first few fixes they will become dangerous bookaholics searching for their latest hit, diverting the housekeeping money to support the habit. Like me.

Have I mentioned that I love Pay Less?


Donny said...

Darn it! (can I say that word?)

I missed the warehouse sale because my previous experience wasn't so good, mainly because they didn't have a good selection of genre fiction to choose from. But pictures of your haul make me wish I really should have gone!

Arrggh! All I'm looking forward to right now is the MPH warehouse sale... :(

Chet said...

Dear Sharon

I've never been to a warehouse sale - either they're held when I'm not free to go, or I only hear about them after they happen.

But I don't mind paying full price for books that interest me.

I was at Borders yesterday evening, and left with the following books:

1) New Beginnings - first chapters of books by the likes of Margaret Atwood, Maeve Binchy, Paulo Coelho, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian McEwan, etc., in aid of the Tsunami tragedy
2) Women Write - a mosaic of women's voices in fiction, poetry, memoir and essay
3) More Stories We Tell - the best contemporary short stories by North American Women
4) Taikor - valour, honour, suspense, betrayal and love, the definitive Malaysian saga

That last book is published by Pelanduk, a Malaysian publisher.

Now, where did I put that receipt?

Eternal Wanderer said...

Darn and double darn!

If it wasn't for my current lack of financial resource due to my little Japan trip, I'm sure I could've gotten quite a haul too!

Oh well, at least I still have RM150 worth of book vouchers from MPH + RM19 worth of rebate as well.

Will you be able to finish reading those books by year's end??

Jane Sunshine said...

Happiness is indeed books shaped...

Glenda Larke said...

I'm torn in two.

It's lovely to see people buying stack of books, I will admit, but....

Alas, as an author who likes to get paid for her work, I wonder just how much the writer derives from a book you buy for a couple of ringgit.

Glenda Larke said...

Actually, I will answer my own question. The author gets nothing for books sold at such a high discount. It will be written into their contract that way.

bibliobibuli said...

donny - there probably wasn't much genre fiction ... but there was plenty of the kinds of books i go for

chet - that sounds like an intersting haul!

eternal wanderer - nope. i won't finish them by year's end. one or two maybe. some i've read already. but i see it more as buying a library. if you want to borrow anything, you can check the my-library link in the sidebar

glenda - these are all secondhand books (some quite old) not remaindered new ones as in the other warehouse sales, so nothing goes to the author ... except this - if you take a risk on a writer you'd never heard of before, discover you really like his/her work, isn't there a much greater chance that you'd seek out that writer (even at full price?) next time you're in the bookshop?

years ago waterstones bookshops in the UK used to have a page of vouchers in the back page of their magazine, which entitled the purchaser to a free book from a list of titles. all the books were backlisted books by an author who had recently released a new novel, reviewed in the magazine. that was how i first got hooked on margaret atwood and i buy her books now hardback, as they come out.

i believe that if you create the desire for books first in a population which doesn't read a great deal, in the long-run authors and bookshops will be the winners

Yvonne Lee said...

Hi Sharon! Of course we all also love to pay less!!! What a nice name, Payless. Also like Pay Peanuts!

I finally got to go for Payless Sale on the last day, thanks to Xeus and Lydia!!

My daughter and I had a great time lookig for bargain books,but the last one, better. At least I got my Anne got it this time and I didn't. Maybe it was last day.
But I got Bill Bryson's "The African Diary" (saw the same one at Borders, selling for, I think, 40 plus) at rm 3, Jan Morris (on travel), Hillary Clinton's "It Takes a Village" and three other non-fiction 'gila-gila' book about woman's mood and travel (again).

Sharon, I like the comments and especially yours, regarding my 'book shopping trend' questions.

Would it be ok for me to use some of them for my story ( not confirmed yet, though.
My email:

Oh yes, do you know that the feeling is mutual? That Payless LOVES you too!
They always praised you after having found out I got to know their sales from your blog. You're famous laa. Can get more discount then...hehehe

bibliobibuli said...

pay peanuts?! haha

i tell you, i can't think of an occasion where i have seen so many happy people together in one room

i gift you the anne lammott (i have so much that makes me happy already) - just remind me when i see you. you got some great travel books, i love bryson and jan morris.

feel free to quote me (i love fame)

Payless loves me back? :-D ! Romance of the year!

Greenbottle said...

went there 3 straight days...didn't see anybody who looked remotely like sharon..saw someone who must be leon on the first day...

my best and unexpected find is a Faber& Faber publication of Ethan & Joel coen's screenplays of Barton fink and Miller's crossing...coen brothers are my all time fav movie makers...
also New yorker cartoons about cats... a couple of gay memoirs ...a few travel books one about jerusalem, one on sicily, another jonathan raban's bad lands , another travel book by the novelist larry mcmurty...didn't buy any fictions this time ...

i think payless does a whole lot better job at making people read than all the book campaigns by the malaysian govt...thank you payless!!


popular bookstore also had a book fair at ikano last week , don't know if it's already finished..their books are all new and selections of fictions were very good... got a couple of gunter grass and sir richard burton's arabian nights...


bibliobibuli said...

thanks greenbottle - another happy bookaholic! i was there same time as leon but went down to the cafe downstairs to have a drink with a friend ... so probably just missed you. too many near misses!

i didn't hear anything about the popular sale or i would have gone to take a look

Sharanya Manivannan said...

Teehee. *Gasp* ;)
(Actually, I wouldn't have gasped, really)

Am SO happy with my purchases from the warehouse sale. After a few hours of piling my basket high, having to push it with my feet because I couldn't carry it, then doing the separating into "yes!", "maybe", and "nah" categories, I found that I had managed to pare my final selecion -- and this was about two dozen books, mind you! -- for about RM60 or RM65, just half of what I had budgeted! So threw in a couple more, and got a nice stash for RM80. And the part that made me chuckle is that they all fit just perfectly, no room for a single one more, in the overnight bag I took along just for the sale. :)

That should last me until price-induced bookglee next hits me, on my next trip to India!

Yvonne Lee said...

THANKS SHARON!! I'll remind you again on Anne Lammott if I see you.

Thanks too for allowing me to lift some views on my questions.

You're such sweet pie!

bibliobibuli said...

sharanya - how did you manage to carry all that?

yvonne - welcome!

Anonymous said...

22 books for RM80 !! lucky you, how come I never know about these things.

bibliobibuli said...

anon - will do my best to keep the world informed. you could also write to payless (link in sidebar) and asked to be put on mailing list.

Anonymous said...

"except this - if you take a risk on a writer you'd never heard of before, discover you really like his/her work, isn't there a much greater chance that you'd seek out that writer (even at full price?) next time you're in the bookshop?"

True.. unfortunately most authors are inconsistent. There are some good ones, some ordinary ones and some really bad ones, and all from the same author.