Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Book This

Those who know me will know that I'm a booklover, first and foremost. I adore books. I practically live in a bookstore ( unlike that one lucky guy in Kinokuniya who I suspect actually lives there ). Bibliophile they call it. Hell, a large portion of my admittedly miserable paycheque goes to the greedy booksellers each month - and it would be safe to say that by last February, I would have easily exceeded the meagre tax break given for books by the government. What was it? RM 700 - or the equivalent of perhaps 20 paperbacks a year? Do our learned parliamentarians even know the price of books these days?

Since books are expensive. Let's not doubt that. In this country, just a regular paperback would set you back possibly three regular meals at the least. Much less a new hardcover from JK Rowling. And to read, we have to purchase the books since our ( largely inaccessible ) public libraries seem to a share a curious distaste for popular fiction.

Don't they know that Dickens was once popular fiction as well? Who knows, Sophie Kinsella might even one day be lauded as poet laureate in the future.

So I don't blame the beleaguered consumers from taking up arms in the latest price war - certainly far greater a threat than any Harry Potter faced in the Deathly Hallows :) Within days, rotten tomatoes and brickbats have been hurled back and forth between the publishers, the bookstores and the buyers.

Daniel Henney
Read a book today!

I stand to the sidelines. Why? Because although I empathize deeply with the hard-pressed bibliophiles ( I want cheap books! ), I know exactly how the bookstores think as well. Sure, I know we would all love books at a cheaper price, novels slashed to half the price to make it all the more affordable for the great unwashed. But think a little further. Bookstores are businesses, not charities. Profits they make from such vaunted bestsellers are channeled not only into the deep pockets of the investors - but also to bringing out much less known novels to the attention of many.

Sure, it would be simple for the large chainstore bookstores to slash prices for the bestsellers. But then where would that leave them?

Everything comes with a price. To offset the price slash - and the inevitable loss - would mean getting more volume of sales. And to get higher volume would mean depending largely on the higher bestsellers. So let's only get the bestsellers. And where would that leave the other lesser known authors? Why bring in new fiction when you can depend solely on the sure bets like our moneyspinner Miss Rowling? Surely no one reads Kafka and his unusual treatises. Surely no one would take a look at the gripes of an overworked intern about the aptly named House of God. Surely no one wants to know about that quirky, esoteric curious incident about a dog in nighttime.

In the backbin, that's where they'll be. Or at least sidelined somewhere we'll never hear of. And wouldn't that be a pity.

That said, books could afford to get just a tad cheaper :P


JL said...

la... buku lagi...

You can start your own mini library already pal...

Brian said...

hey paul. yeah. i've read bout MPH and Popular boycotting HP 7.after reading ur piece, i've realised the full circumstance of the situation.if before i backed what Tesco did, now, i know and fully realised the importance of sticking to MPH and the sorts.

i'm just lucky that the price is not exorbitant here.

p/s: r u a fan of HP or/and Daniel Radcliffe himself? :D

Vengelyne said...

I've HP book 1 - 5 and I've only read the first one so far. I've four 20% discount vouchers from Borders and one 20% discount voucher from Kinokuniya which I can use to buy HP book 5 and 6, BUT I refuse to buy until they're RM30+. No, I will not even head to Tesco or Carrefour. I can wait for the price to drop. =P Not in a hurry to finish the HP series.

I've 30+ new and unread books on my bookshelf. I need to stop stepping into bookstores. Eep.

Cyclohelix said...

for this year alone, i have like 3 boxes of stashed mags...will ship em' back to hometown before Christmas.

Janvier said...

We still stick by the regular booksellers, so long as the book prices are reasonable ie. HP7 at 20-25% is considerably okay for a hardback. And one can comfortably spend near the entire day in a bookstore, not the hypermart.

Ryan said...

Yippie! I am a book-lover too. Since young I've read those king-fu Chinese novel by Jin Yong until my first romantic English novel till the HP series. And now I randomly choose some English novel under new arrival or bestseller section.

I can't be put in a bookstore. I don't have problem walking in, but I'll have hard time walking out. I am a book-addict. I am greedy. I want to buy all the books! And I always have hard time to choose which one. I always think they all are worth reading.

And yes, books are EXPENSIVE!! I don't care why but they are just VERY EXPENSIVE. That's why I keep all the books I bought. No dog ear! No missing pages! Those books were exchanged from my "sweat and blood"!

Sorry, am I griping here? I don't really care! :p

Lewis said...

I had no idea that books are that much more expensive than they are here....and they're plenty expensive here to begin with. But we're lucky that we have second-hand stores, used books at Powell's Books (see my post from Monday).

cleo weiland said...

Sigh. It's been some time since I read a proper book. The last was The Half Blood Prince. Ages ago, I know. I've been lazy!

I shamelessly downloaded the pdf version of the Deathly Hallows. I 'm such a pirate aren't I? I might as well walk around with a parrot on my shoulder and an eye patch. Haha. But I do have the actual book back home though.

Awesome read. A suitable end to the series.Enjoy!

Ban said...

Eh... I don't like the idea of price fixing of the Potter book at RM110 in the first place. The price should be allowed to move via free market forces to determine the balance between profit needed and lower prices.

Anonymous said...


Its RM1,000 this year onwards

Ah-Bong said...

can't believe u still read lah... didn't i read somewhere that u were too busy already? lol...

Dave said...

Then mabey you should consider migrating to Singapore. Cos over here, there are sale on books at Borders frequently. And you can get 20%-30% off for books on their once per month promotion printed on the papers.

Not forgetting the crowd of cute guys browsing thru man's magazine and sex books section. hee..

EarlGreyTea said...

book club book club, always asked for that nobody wants :(

Chen said...

Somehow, chinese books are much much much cheaper than english books.

Anonymous said...

if u want bestsellers at cheap price, come to india for the pirated ones. But don't blame me if pages r missing at the climax of the story.

savante said...

Already have that mini library mah, jl.

A fan of Harry Potter of course, brian. Well sort of fan.

Read the whole lot. Will take my time finishing the last one thouh, vengelyne. You're not the only one with unfinished books on the shelf :)

Wow. So many mags. What kind, helix?

True enough, janvier.

Usually google the author before getting the book. And yeah, books are damned expensive. no argument there, ryan.

They really are expensive, lewis. So go out and buy more books there! It's cheap :)

Half Blood Prince was a year ago, cleo! :P

True enough but it isn't that easy, ban.

Whoa. But still not enough, anon.

Busy but I still find the time to read, ah bong.

But migrating there would be expensive as well, dave :P

Book club, egt?

I think the large number of published books would reduce the price, chen.

Alamak, no ending, imphaldiary. That would be terrible.


Zyklon22 said...

I so agree. Especially when it comes to us mere students that can only afford to starve for our fiction. Let's all be paupers for all that paper!

Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy said...

hahaha! How you doc? Long time no see. ;-) Been rather busy with weddings and shop and all.

Where this thing is concerned, its a storm in a teacup.

I think MPH over-reacted and to keep things in perspective, hypermarkets and the like will NEVER replace normal bookstores.

In more developed countries like in Australia, the US, and UK, there are places like COSTCO (like MAKRO) which sell books. They are cheaper than normal bookstores but not by much when compared to a Borders or the like. Then there are specialty bookshops which sell lower volume books but at greater prices.

If you keep the market free (in other words, allowing Tescos/Carrefour their right of selling the book at whatever price they deem fit) you will eventually have a market that develops like that.

If you don't, you'll be stuck with peevish "children" like MPH. And as some of you rightly pointed out, you don't go into a Tescos/Carrefour and sit there the whole day browsing. You do that at Borders/Kinos/MPH (some of them at any rate). It's just a different experience. And that's what some of our book companies need to sit up and realise. Competition should focus you. It shouldn't be somethin you react to in fear or in self righteousness. Competition is a fact. Someone will try to sell what you're selling now cheaper and better. Live with it. All it means is good news for the consumer AND good news for those who are perhaps a little more creative with how they brand their product.

Anonymous said...

who is this man??? he's so ultra cute...