Sunday, September 02, 2007

Xcessively Cheap!

Fancy some cheap books? Christy Yoong of Starmag interviews Jaqueline Ng (left) of Bookxcess which has now moved to a much bigger shoplot in Amcorp Mall.

How did the books get there at such low prices?
All the books in this store are remainders or overprints. Remainders are unsold books returned to publishers by bookstores and distributors, while overprints happen when publishers overestimate demand.

“Previously, publishers would just pulp these unsold books when their warehouses are full,” Ng says.

“Now that there’s a demand for these books, they are happy to get back something from their original investment.”

BookXcess is part of a worldwide consortium that buys these books in bulk from publishers like Bloomsbury, HarperCollins, Headline-Hodder, Random House, Paragon, Penguin and Walker.

“The publishers want to get the books out of their warehouses to make space for more books coming in, so they just pack everything and send them out,” Ng explains.

The number of books shipped out is mind boggling – literally in the hundreds of thousands – and BookXcess, one of the smallest members of the consortium, gets about 8,000 new titles every two to three weeks.
There are plans for expansion - branches in Penang and Johor Bharu and even for a (gasp!) cheapy books hypermarket (which will surely have my friends in the established bookshops hyperventilating!)

A second article features Reader's Shack, an online book rental service. (Apologies - I meant to blog about this service some time ago after someone sent me this link to an article about it by Brigette Rozario in the New Straits Times.)

Reader's Shack was started by Lau Sie Sing who is in IT and engineer Lily Liang.

In the early days the enterprising couple would even meet their customers at LRT stations to pass on and retrieve books but as the business grew (largely by word of mouth praise) they now have to mail the books out. They now have about 500 registered users.

(For those in other parts of the world where the whole concept of book rental is alien, basically you pay the full price of the book when you rent it. When you return it, you get that amount back, minus the cost of rental. If you don't return the book, there's no problem - you just don't get your money back. As a book gets tattier after subsequent rentals, the total cost of the copy drops. It's a very sensible system, particularly in a country where public libraries are inadequate but many can't afford, or haven't space to store, their own books.)

So don't you guys go complaining about the high cost of reading!


Cereal Girl said...

The problem with selling these books that have been returned to the publisher is that the authors do not recieve royalties.

Can you imagine a situation where the publishers could make more money selling remaindered books (sans royalties) than by selling the same books the first time 'round?

bibliobibuli said...

that's a very good point to make, cereal girl.

i really don't know the answer to your question, but it is a worrying thought.

bibliobibuli said...

as a coda to that, cereal girl, even if the average malaysian book-buyer realised this, they wouldn't lose a wink of sleep. this is the land of the pirated video, the knock-off designer handbag. paying for intellectual property is viewed as a quaint notion. (cynical or what??)