Thursday, November 26, 2009

What's Big and Bad, but Actually Very Good?

It's BookXcess' Big Bad Book Sale, of course!

I was invited along to the preview yesterday, but couldn't make it, so decided to go along today.

It was a very weird Thursday anyway - the traffic was terrible for a weekday, and it took me a while to realise that since tomorrow is Hari Raya Haji and it's school holiday besides, many people had taken time off work to enjoy an extended weekend. A marvellous bit of timing for mad keen book buyers.

(Above - one indulgent dad with a pile of books for his daughter - and there was another full box at this feet!)

When I got to Amcorp Mall, and made my way up to the third floor where the sale was being held (in a huge double shop-lot next to the bookshop), I could not believe the long queue of people waiting to get in to the already packed space. I needed lunch (at my favourite Korean restaurant) before I could even think of braving it.

When I came back much fortified (by kimchi and bulgogi) the queue was gone, but there was scarcely room to move inside. Whoever laments that Malaysians don't read, don't value books, should have seen the heartwarming sight of folks with huge piles and boxes of books.

I really hadn't intended to buy much but soon accumulated a huge bag full of good stuff. The coffee table books were going for RM20, and pretty much all the rest - even hardbacks - for RM8 each. The adult fiction selection wasn't amazing (or maybe all those other eager poeple had beaten me to the best), but I ended up with plenty of non-fiction choices. (My bag full only cost me RM139!)

No matter how hot and uncomfortable it got, or how long the queue for the tills, there was a great feeling of camaraderie among the book lovers. There were new-friends to make along the way, much surrepstitious peeking at other people's book choices.

And of course a few old friends to find. Raja Ahmad is at every cheap book sale I go to!

And Daphne Lee was there too helping out.

I was hot and exhausted by the end, but very happy indeed with my swag. I'm too tired to list everything I bought but might add a note tomorrow.

The sale runs till 2nd December and there's still plenty of good stuff.


Idzwan Phoenix said...

aaahhh, I'm sooooooo jealous =(

I wish I was back in malaysia getting my hands on all those super cheap books eventhough it'll take forever to finish reading them all.

Say, do you know where in UK do they have this kind of book fair, that is if they have any? I'm studying in Newcastle now and I think the reading habit of Malaysians are not that bad compared to people here in the UK especially among the university students. Those typical stories about UK people reading while waiting for train or while travelling in one are such exaggerated ones (some do actually read, mostly the elderly) and I sometimes get weird stares from people around me whenever I do it.
Maybe they are surprised to see an Asian capable of doing such a thing.

Hope you enjoy your books =)

Kak Teh said...

idzwan, last week when I went to Waterstone in Whiteleys, London, they were selling everything half price and even less as the store is closing down soon. Perhaps you should travel down to London. Also, if you are here, you might want to check out Southbank - there are loads of second hand books going very cheap.

Maxsterism said...

Arrrgh, I saw you taking a picture outside before walking away when I was paying for my stash, missed my chance to say hi! (>_<) The queue in the morning/early afternoon was crazy, I lined up for one and a half hours just to pay!

glenda larke said...

Pity the authors. Probably not one of them made a penny yesterday from any book sold.

But, then we all know authors are filthy rich anyway, from all those multi million dollar advances, don't we? And if they aren't rich, well, they write for the love of it and don't mind people getting to read for free.

Sorry, at the moment I am writing 14 hours a day to meet a deadline, and am a bit cheesed off.

Crankster said...

I've been planning to go but not found time yet.

Oh well, usually most Malaysians don't share the same taste in books that I do, so hopefully, there will still be what I want when I eventually make it there.

daphne said...

Well, one thing about sales is that authors get read by pple who might not be able to afford the full price of a book, or who might not want to "risk" paying RM40 for book by someone whose work they are not familiar with, and may not like.

I "discovered" Yoko Ogawa, Francine Prose and many others when I picked up cheap copies of their books. I have also gone on to buy full-price copies of their other work.

Someone told me how they boughht Tan Twan Eng's A Gift of Rain at a sale and is now looking forward to Tan's next novel and will buy it in hardback.

It was quite an experience working at the Big Bad Sale. Hats off to the team at the sale. They are a truly hardworking, patient, good-humoured and even-tempered bunch.

I have to say that there were quite a few ugly Malaysians present at the sale (sales do bring out the worst in ppl, don't they?)but also many true book lovers who were not rude, pushy and obnoxious; and who didn't whine and grumble when asked not to place heavy boxes on top of books arranged spine-up.

Oh the stories I could tell ...

All in, a very valuable experience though.

I'll be working at the sale again this weekend so come say hello if you recognise me (I'm the one who looks unkempt, hot and bothered)!


- Daphne

Chet said...

"and who didn't whine and grumble when asked not to place heavy boxes on top of books arranged spine-up."

People at book sales who place heavy boxes on top of books arranged spine-up are not book lovers at all! They just saw the word "sale", that's all.

daphne said...

Oh, I met an ex-colleague who grumbled to me about how "unreasonable" the sales staff were about requesting she didn't put her box on top of the books.

Granted, the place was packed and it must have been hard to even find room to place her box on the floor.

However, I do urge customers to remember that if they feel grouchy because of the crowds and pushing, imagine how it must be for the sales staff who have to endure it for more than 12 hours a day. Many of these staff start the day as early as 7am and some don't leave til midnight or after.

Also, customers have the "luxury" of being short with the staff but the staff have to be pleasant all the time.

It's not easy. When I asked a customer if the contents of a box she was looking through were hers she said I had asked my question in a rude manner and was giving her a dirty look. I honestly wasn't (or didn't intend to anyway)and it is probably my misfortune that my natural expression is quite sulky (pple have commented on this before) but I couldn't give her a piece of my mind as I was staff and the customer is always right.

Another lady tipped a bunch of signs out of a box that we had stored under one of the tables. Why? Because she wanted the box for her books.

I said to her, "You could have asked us to help you." And she replied" "Well, it's too late now!"


B said...

Poor Glenda, she'd have a canary if she knew you could get books for free now.

Anyway I no longer buy books, there's nothing much good to read anyway so i might as well get it for free.

I see someone has my tastes in books, lots of cheap pulp fiction (Stephen King, yay !) and not a Murakami in sight.

glenda larke said...

Books for free? You mean like the book of mine uploaded in full onto the net for free downloading? It took legal intervention to get it taken down.

I wonder how many people would be happy to work for nothing at their normal jobs, they way they expect us to work at ours?

Boy, I am feeling grumpy today.

Idzwan Phoenix said...

thanks Kak Teh...
i'll try checking out Southbank when I come down to London next month or in January =)

suziemclean said...

I was at the sale at about 3pm (Thursday) and apparently an argument broke out between two customers over a genuine accident.

My father-in-law said that apparently a child's hand(or some other body part) was scratched by (a handbag? box) of another customer (by accident of course) and the kid cried.

The mom started scolding the other customer and voices were raised.

I can't believe I missed that! I must have gone to the Children's section at the time.

Subashini said...

I was at the sale last night and today and thought that the previous location was definitely better in terms of space. Here, it was a tight fit between the tables, and people were carting around massive boxes. I appreciate the efforts of the organisers in having the event in a location that is more accessible to the public, though.

I do think the staff were terrific. They were always pleasant, helpful, and polite on both days I was there. But the customers? Another story entirely. Especially the ones with the big boxes. Apparently the bigger your box, the smaller your capacity for courtesy.

Yes, do SHOVE your box into my ribs and walk away without an apology. Please, carry on! All in the name of cheap books!

Ah, but I digress. I think it was a great effort on the part of the organisers and I walked away with 12 books under RM 100 and I'm all warm and happy inside. :)

marineko said...

I saw you taking pictures of the crowd! I was in the long queue for the cashier, though, so I couldn't go over to say hi. So I'm saying it here - hi! ^_^

marineko said...

Daphne - I can imagine the horrors you went through! (Having gone through similar stuff at Kino, haha) If I needed to rest my box/books (there really weren't any space near my feet) I usually find corners where there aren't many books and rest a part of the box on the empty space, supporting the rest of the box with my hands. There were probably one or two exceptions when I could find no such space, but I tried.

Oxymoron said...

Oh no. I was planning to go with my wife and 2 young kids, plus a friend from Penang. How am I to manage my kids in a big crowd? :(

bibliobibuli said...

Glenda - the books i bought were definitely ones i would not have taken the risk on full-price. i spend plenty on new books inc hardbacks but am safer in my choices.

Marineko - so sad i didn't bump into you! i knew loads of blog friends must be there but there were just oo many people.

agree about the space, Subashini. but talking to the organisers, they had no idea that so many people would turn up.

Glenda Larke said...

One thing for sure, Sharon, I would never accuse you of not being supportive of writers or of not buying enough books!!! Lol!

budisolutions said...

salam hormat,
jemput ke Budi Bookstore untuk melayari alam buku-buku motivasi dan kemajuan kendiri.
terima kasih.

bibliobibuli said...

yep, never can say that Glenda. i'm a pathological book buyer

y'know, budisolutions? it would be much more polite if you actually asked before you stuck up you little ad in my blog comments! you might go back to that grandaddy of all self-help books "how to win friends and influence people". the only influence you have managed here is pissing us off!!!

Greenbottle said...

ahahaha..i love it when bibliobibuli is in her dark mood. which reminds me to inform you that i went there again today and there are still quite a few of one of the best british weeklies - THE SPECTATOR back issues (as recent as september 2009). i bought rm100 worth of back issues on the first day. and a big box full of coffee table books on diverse subjects including paintings, old temples of lhasa and italian gardens.

there are no more good non-fiction/coffee table books today and the only books remaining are mostly fictions including a section on 'fantasy' books.

didn't buy any fiction except the playboy's college fiction : a collection of 21 years of contest winners and isaac bashevis singer's 'the family moskat'- to add to my collection of singer's works.

probably my most delicious find is julian barnes memoir 'nothing to be frightened of 'which as his website describe it as:....

'I don’t believe in God, but I miss him.’ Julian Barnes’ new book is, among many things, a family memoir, an exchange with his brother (a philosopher), a meditation on mortality and the fear of death, a celebration of art, an argument with and about God, and a homage to the French writer Jules Renard.

bibliobibuli said...

it was all so crzy i am glad i managed to find the things i did. would have so loved the julian barnes.

made daphne buy 'the world without us" - the story of what would happen to the planet if all the people on in magically vapourised. it is an excellent book and a great find. (am much consoled that even if people are all gone, cats will do very well.)

i'm reading one of the science books i picked up which is about cyborgs, robots and stuff like that. very interesting and well written.

i love my copy of 1001 books for every mood which i think i must blog about.

i left the rest in the bag for the moment and will take them out one by one to fully appreciate them.

cheapy books are a treat. the book i currently dream of is over RM300 - old photos of malaysia