I never planned on going to KLIBF at all because I have been going to KLIBF and a bunch other local book fairs since I was a kid. But I stopped going to these things because of some major thing a) the discounts are lame b) not much books I like to read and c) I end up not buying much 😛
But I had an interview at the Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Awam today so while I was already in KL, might as well go to the known KLIBF. I have enough money to buy a couple of books but honestly I just went by and only sightseeing.
I realized that they have a walkway from PWTC Star LRT to PWTC. Considering the last time I was at PWTC for a book fair was 2001, this is an improvement since I used to walk across the highway road just to go to the other side.
And the place is huge. My feet hurt from walking around. PWTC have several levels but only three of them are used for the book fair but theres a lot of space for everyone to walk around without bumping into people with their stacks of books. Most of the goers are school kids on a school trip while the rest are parents, teachers, college students, university students and bookworms like me.
One thing I did notice was the hotel catering in all floors. Something new I guess. But there’s not much crowd to begin with – unlike BBW obviously. But all food seems overpriced. One hotel sells soda cans for RM3 I think. Does they think people can’t walk to the other side of the building for The Mall across the road?
BTW, the floor starts on the second floor. The second floor is largely islamic books and malay books particularly from known local publishers. There’s MPH distributors right near one of the entrance. They have 30% to 10% off like the rest of the booths. There are some rare 40%-50% discounts in here.. but not all title are my cup of tea. There are the some kids books I found which are the same one which I bought from BBW with the price of RM12-RM10 are now RM30-50 each. Parents, just save your money until the end of the year. But I did found these barbie novels and stuff around rm-18. But of course, my nieces have a bunch of their own books to begin with.
I felt weird with the placement…. especially with the stacks of 50 Shades facing the other booth. Heh… Then again, I’m still weirded out that folks think 50 Shades as their average Twilight romance. How wrong can they be….
And around the corner, there’s the Karangkraf section with their ridiculously huge hall . But the price aren’t that interesting to me unless you like reading those repetitive malay romances because those are mostly on sale. Ramlee Awang Murshid’s books are on 30% mark off but for a series of mostly RM20 books, I think its cheap even at its original price.
I went to the PTS section last after I scoured through the levels. I found my university friends there and we talk some more. Apparently there’s a queue for Hlovate’s Anthem.
But I don’t really care for contemporary romances, no one (malay author) is really doing a proper paranormal romance without sounding like Twilight rip off. Which is sad really. I want to read Buffy-like character in Malay.
I went around, got myself registered for Shah Alam Library for free and then I went to the second floor.
As for the third floor, I didn’t get any pictures at all largely because its the only floor for school materials. I find it sad that we have the mania with publishing school workbooks and help guides which is given more priority than the actual learning process. School years might have been fun if the learning doesn’t feel forced and compact which I suffered through and through.
Luckily, there’s also local tertiary publication among the third floor booths but most of it was all social sciences. I didn’t find science publications from UKM Press. Sad really.
But there’s an elevator toward the fourth floor and this is where I found myself in awe.
Known publishers of all university textbook and hardbound journals….
The only thing I’m mad about was the price… sigh. Its only a place for those who have spare several hundred ringgit, loaded research students (then again I know many who are broke :P) and university librarian armed with their invoices. I found great Cambridge Companion series in the literature section in Cambridge booth that I really want especially Fantasy and Creative Writing.
I found a bunch of interesting books on Marijuana research, Insomnia, Psychology, Forensic etc. Now, I’m thinking of becoming a member to my own university library. Then again, its only RM50 annually. I can still go back and kacau my juniors and lecturers. One thing I miss about university was reading interesting book and journals in the library. Unfortunately, semesters are really short for me. Luckily I’ve graduated so now I didn’t have to read for exams.
I know that you see I am not a fan of non-fiction (autobiographies, religious books and stuff) but I really love academic-related non-fiction. Especially science and medicine and stuff. These books are more interesting due to their citation and the care they took to be precise. Yeah, I used to read these stuff for fun more than my required reading.
But then I am not loaded enough to get these books that they’re offering but Pearson booth have real book sale!
And some books are 50% off. I want to get Rift by Andrea Cramer but I already have it on kindle but there’s a bunch of House of Night book with half prices. There’s also Nick Chronicles on sale (I recommend you to get those except for the latest one which I reviewed already) for a couple “belas belas ringgit” (under USD10).
But I only buy one book which is…
Edith Piaf’s No Regrets for RM10. How lucky! I always love Edith Piaf. I used to listen to her non-stop during my first year (then you all know her “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” from Inception) and her song is singable to my vocal type (of course, I didn’t have hers). There’s an Edith Piaf movie where Marion Cotillard acted as Edith Piaf. I haven’t seen it yet but its on my to-watch list.
Overall, I think I will be going to next year’s exhibition just for the tertiary level publisher booths. Their kind of books are rare in Malaysia, and expensive and need some ordering or a membership to a university library. There’s only several bookstores that have these kind of books (kinokuniya and kamal and borders give up on unipress I think) but in a limited quantity. Even BR1M isn’t enough to cover even one of these books. Then again, I don’t get BR1M.
As for other books, if you like most of what the local publishers have to offer, then you’ll be having a grand time. But most prices wasn’t enough to tempt me as the publisher mostly put all on 10% discounts on all average books that you can get from local bookstores. I am a regular bookstore goer and so I usually get those kind of discounts myself from cards.
For English books, do wait for the end of the year for the annual Big Bad Wolf sale. I am biased with KLIBF because of this, most average paperback Malay books are RM15-20 so 10%-30% mark off prices is still within affordable range but most paperback English books in local bookstore have an average price range of Rm35-100. You see where this goes?
Admittedly, there’s a lot of choices for Malay and Islamic-related books in KLIBF which suit the nation’s majority needs but there’s also notable absence of certain folks that was not within the demographic. I don’t really see anything that cater non-Malay bookworms or anything for people from other faith. There’s a section reserved for Arab publications but not much Chinese nor Indian publishers. I see why Read Malaysia have large section dedicated for most Chinese publications and I know the market is huge but I notice this stark absence in KLIBF.
I could do a haul post as I did bring enough money to buy several books but I decided against it, considering I didn’t find the offered titles interesting even with freebies (thats why I have Popular Paradigm Mall, Kinokuniya, amazon.com, BBW, Netgalley and Bookxcess). Then again, if I had the mood for it, I tend to find specific Malay books more easily from local bookstores and not from book fairs.
However, it is still a traditional publishing book convention. You won’t get self published things in here. And unlike places like BEA, I don’t even think ARCs are given here as the local market don’t really see reviewers like me as a marketing asset like the most non-local international and independent publishers does. (Hello, thats how YA thrive…) It does explain why local publishings were still restricted in their own comfort zone and traditional marketing. (Ironically, there’s a discussion about it in the book fair about how local publishing had a long way to go for international field)
Considering the larger part of the floors is dedicated for childrens’ education and school related books, it does shows how our market focus its target on and neglecting others. As most of the nation population are literate and we have a healthy growing intellectual group and tertiary educated population, why don’t you cater to these sort of folks instead of focusing on school kids? A’s at school is only way to enter college or university, past all that, it doesn’t mean anything. Focus on education as a priority. Not examinations. There’s also nothing on homeschooling and other alternative teaching method besides trying to sell CDs on how to teach kids how to say certain things in English. Why do we depend on these materials instead of building teaching resources and researching more on ways to support our learning culture and equalize the learning rate of the population?
If you want to survive, you have to make change.
And considering I haven’t been into KLIBF since 2001…. I still find several things does remain the same as 12 years ago. People selling Islamic materials of all kind, people selling school helper related things and people selling overpriced CDs…
I don’t mind selling the resources… but what with most publishers competitively trying to sell the same things in one place? How does that going really?