Two days ago I walked into ASDA supermarket and bought Tony Parsons’ book titled “One for my baby” for £1. First time for me and a rare find, besides Sidney Sheldon’s books going for £1. In Malaysia, you will never ever get paperbacks for less than RM20. As I told one of my job interviewer from Harper Collins, in a bad time, book sales will not suffer in this part of the world. But it will be badly affected in Asia when a book is about 30 to 50% of an average grocery expenses (RM300= £60). Over here, a paperback is the price of 4 packs of 175g of Walker’s potato crisp or 500g of beef. This really changes my value on book acquisition and collection.
First, I am now able to read a paperback and sell it off online with no gain. I could decide not to keep any books for “Just-in-case” because if I really need a specific book, I could always purchase it online again. I could choose to buy used books so that I help preserve some trees. I could even read and decided that the story is not that great for me to keep it and I could pass it on to another friend to read. Or you might even swap books with your friends.
The big supermarket sells paperbacks for the standard price of £3.86 or two for £7. Their titles are never duplicated, meaning Tesco will never sell the same books as ASDA. It is only for limited time. Or pay £0.01 + £2.75 for packaging and postage buying via Amazon.co.uk for famous paperbacks where readers no longer want to keep. The local bookstores however sell at the RRP of £6.99 or £7.99 for a paperback. You must however buy 3 for the price of two to get the price similar to the big supermarkets.
It is amazing to live in this part of the world, if it is only to be close to local libraries and “cheap” books. Cheap doesn’t mean low quality, instead it means having higher Purchasing Power Parity to be able to not think too hard to buy a book, as compared to the rest of the world. I could pick up a book while I shop for my grocery, while I am waiting for a plane in the airport and knowing that I would be taking a 13 hour flight, while I am at the train station. The price will never ever be a barrier for me to want to read a book. Reading then becomes my birth right. Reading then becomes breathing.
It is truly amazing, if you think about it.