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Big Bad Wolf 2020 – Malaysia’s Largest Book Sale Goes Online

Since 2009, Malaysian bibliophiles and book hoarders have made their annual pilgrimage to the Big Bad Wolf Sale, which is held every year around Feb/Mac or Nov/Dec and is touted as the largest book sale in the region. The last time I went in 2018, they had over 3 million titles!

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Buang balik #2018

Due to the pandemic, many events have had to be cancelled – so the BBW won’t be held physically this year. They are, however, having an online sale, so you can still shop for books from the comforts of your own home. The sale went live at midnight on Nov 4, and will run until Nov 11 (which is shorter than the usual BBW which usually runs for 2 weeks).

Now, although BBW and BookXCess (BBW’s parent company) has been around for some time, they’ve always been more of a brick-and-mortar business – as evidenced by their bookstores, which are all beautifully designed as ‘lifestyle hubs’ where you can sip on a coffee, work, study, etc. There is of course nothing wrong with this; I personally prefer physical bookstores and the joy of finding an awesome book hidden in a corner shelf , getting to inhale the smell of paper, touch the sleek edges of the page. Hmm.

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The BookXCess store at Tamarind Square, Cyberjaya is the largest bookstore in Malaysia, and it operated 24 hours a day (pre-pandemic)

But we are living in uncertain times, and many businesses have had to accelerate their digital processes and shift to a more online-centric model to cater to shifting consumer needs/demands. BBW’s first online sale will be a test as to how well it’ll be able to cope. So far, there seem to be a lot of teething problems.

Since going live at midnight, many users have complained that the website is inaccessible – probably due to the sheer amount of web traffic which is overloading their servers. When they do get in, some have problems creating an account, while others can’t browse because titles are not showing up on the pages. Still others have said their cart turns up empty after they’ve selected the items they want to purchase, and some users haven’t been able to checkout at all.

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I’m part of a local book group on FB, and these are just some of the frustrated comments:

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Curious, I went to the website myself at around 11AM today. It loaded fine at first…

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But upon trying to register for an account:

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Tried again at 12.40PM and managed to get a form to fill up, but after filling it up and pressing ‘create account’, it cleared my data and requested for me to fill up my details again.

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BBW has at least acknowledged they’re having problems on their page.

Now I’m not trying to be mean here or say that they’re doing a shit job – I’m sure their IT department is working round-the-clock to resolve these issues, and despite how some people have commented that “Oh you should have been prepared knowing that there will be many people surfing your website”, I know Murphy’s Law applies – you can prepare for every possibility in the world, but things that will go wrong will go wrong.

But I also understand the frustration on the consumer’s side – one comment said it took them an hour to register an account, an hour to browse and select their books, and another hour to checkout because they had to keep refreshing the page – a total of four hours. In a digital-savvy world of instant gratification and convenient online shopping, four hours just doesn’t cut it.

That being said, there are also customers like these – which is when you know you’ve done something right with your brand:

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If you do manage to get in, BBW 2020 does have great discounts, up to 90% off on 40,000 titles and with over two million books on sale. They also provide free shipping on orders above RM180. If you’re buying above RM300, you’re entitled to a further 10% discount with the code BBW10% off.

Anyway, I hope they manage to sort things out soon because I do think that they are doing a good thing – which is bringing books to customers. There are also many pros to going online, namely avoiding the crowd of shoppers and the massive traffic jams that are a signature of BBW sales every year.

PS: I initially wanted to browse some of the titles, but perhaps this is for the best seeing as I have a TBR pile from AS FAR BACK AS 2013 LMFAO I HATE MYSELF WHY AM I LIKE THIS LOL.

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These were from 2018. I have only managed to finish the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time wtf. Kill me.

Have you ordered books from the Big Bad Wolf Sale 2020? How was your experience?

Kuala Lumpur Events in September – Diversecity 2017: An International Art Festival

Celebrate and explore Malaysia’s vibrant arts and culture scene at Diversecity 2017, an international arts festival held annually in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Happening throughout the month of September, visitors can expect a showcase of over 50 local and international acts across genres such as dance, music, visual arts, the arts and more at venues all around the capital.

Entranced: An Evening with a Ghost

For lovers of dance and movement, enjoy an ethereal performance with Entranced: An Evening with a Ghost, which marries contemporary Southeast Asian trance-rituals with traditional Japanese Noh drama. The haunting showcase cleverly weaves together different elements such as dance, installations, visuals, sounds and vocals for a truly spectacular treat for all the senses.

There’s also the legendary Boy Story from Hong Kong, a classic which was first performed in 1996. Now, 21 years later, watch as the cast who have turned from teens to uncles and fathers reunite to bring audiences on a trip down memory lane.

Boy Story

Traditional Malay ‘Zapin’ dance

Che Malambo

For the first time ever in Malaysia, Argentinian all-male dance sensation Che Malambo will be bringing their energetic, fiery performances to the stage. This will be a good time for Malaysians and international visitors alike to see them performing the traditional South American Malambo, which is characterised by a blend of precision footwork, rhythmic stomping, drum beats and song.

On the music front, Diversecity offers a wonderful mix this year, be it band ensembles or classical music and traditional instruments. Highlights include the Once Upon a Time by string quartet 16 Strings and the critically acclaimed Sachal Ensemble, who will be making their debut in Malaysia at the festival. Known for their one-of-a-kind take on iconic songs from bands and singers such as The Beatles, the talented musicians blend Western instruments such as violins with traditional Pakistani ones. The result is as enchanting as it is unique, and will surely have audience members tapping their foot and bobbing their heads to the hypnotic rhythms.

Sachal Ensemble

Back by popular demand, playwright, comedian and actor Wolfe Bowart will be making an appearance with ‘Letter’s End’, featuring his signature physical comedy, illusion, shadow puppetry and interactive film which is sure to tickle and wow audiences of all ages.

 

The young ones are not left out as there will be performances such as The Breath of Dragons and Bon Voyage!(above), performed at the Kereta Api Tanah Melayu Berhad platform.

 

Other activities in the lineup include art exhibitions, poetry readings, literature activities and more. Events are either ticketed or free. For the full festival line up and ticket purchases, visit http://www.diversecity.my. 

Breath of Dragons

 

*Photos courtesy of DiverseCity.