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Beware of Big Bad Wolf: 10 fun facts about the book sale

Devina Heriyanto

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, May 5, 2016  /  09:11 am
Beware of Big Bad Wolf: 10 fun facts about the book sale

Hall 10 of the Indonesia Convention Exhibition (ICE) in Tangerang was selected as the venue. Inside, visitors can find tables of books separated by genre. ( Heriyanto)

Big Bad Wolf (BBW) 2016 is the first event of its kind in Indonesia. With 40 containers filled with 1.5 million books, it promises affordable imported books.

BBW has held book sales regularly in many cities in its country of origin, Malaysia. A franchise was later bought by PT Jaya Retail with Uli Silalahi as director. Uli personally asked BBW to hold a sale in Jakarta due to the low literacy rates in Indonesia.

Here are some interesting facts found by about the event.

1. BBW prides itself on huge reductions, of up to 90 percent for some books

Despite the prices, the organizer claims it's still making profits. "We're still a business. But not too much as we don't mark up the prices," said Uli.

2. BBW obtains its books from three top publishers – Harper Collins, Penguin Books and Alfred A. Knopf 

Unlike other retailers, it cannot return unsold books. "The books will be used for the next city," explained Uli.

3. On weekdays, sales are relatively low

Uli said the number of visitors on those days was only a quarter of the number of booklovers expected on Sunday.

The sale had a limited opening on Friday. On its first day of public operation on Saturday, BBW saw 8,000 visitors, and the number jumped to 25,000 on Sunday. 

4. BBW's organizer expects 25,000 to 30,000 visitors per day for the long weekend

Advertisements are inviting people from Bandung to come and visit Tangerang, as opposed to the usual situation where Jakartans flood Bandung on weekends.

5. Hall 10 of the Indonesia Convention Exhibition (ICE) in Tangerang was selected as the venue

Inside, visitors can find tables of books separated by genre. 

6. BBW caters to readers of almost all genres

These include fantasy, young adult, general fiction, literature and non-fiction. 

Parents and children can browse books together, as almost third of the hall is dedicated to children's books.

7. Comfort is guaranteed

Despite the crowds, visitors will not feel hot as there are air conditioners blasting in the hall. 

The organizer also provides small trolleys for books so visitors do not feel burdened by the weight of the books.

8. The book selection is solid

Every visitor is guaranteed to find something interesting.

However, it is important to note that the titles are not newly published ones. There are no copies of this year’s Pulitzer winning book The Sympathizer, nor last year's Pulitzer winner All the Light We Cannot See or Man Booker Prize winner Brief History of Seven Killings. But popular books can easily be found such as the Hunger Games series, Maze RunnerA Song of Ice and Fireand also The Lord of the Rings.

Despite the huge collection, visitors will sometimes see the same title scattered over a few tables. Unfortunately, many are without plastic covers.

The literature selection also has a solid range of classics. However, in terms of newer literary works, there are titles from various notable authors but with limited choices. Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of A Death Foretold is available, though better known titles like Love in the Time of Cholera or One Hundred Years of Solitude are not. Hanya Yagihara's debut The People in the Trees can be found, unlike the newer, much acclaimed A Little Life. Works from Jose Saramago and Doris Lessing, both Nobel Peace Prize winners, are also present. 

In short, you'll find lesser known books from famous authors.

9. BBW is famous for its sales

The books are cheap, compared to bookstores. 

A paperback copy of Les Miserables (the movie tie-in edition) is priced at Rp 70,000 (US$5.29), almost a third of the price in bookstores such as Periplus, Books and Beyond or Open Trolley. 

For Rp 60,000 to Rp 70,000, visitors can get hardback editions of some books, which are usually priced at Rp 200,000 to Rp 400,000.

The same goes for graphic novels. A visitor stated that some prices were a third of those in Indonesian bookstores. 

However, for some titles, the prices are not that different to shopping on Amazon. For instance, DC Comics’ The Brightest Dayis priced at Rp 130,000, but can be found for $15.83 on Amazon. Still, BBW offers the easier way to buy.

10. In a corner of the hall, visitors can find the “Curious Corner”, which sells posters and wall decorations

The sale is open 24 hours during long weekend to cater to those who want to avoid the crowds. The director noted that there were not many visitors for midnight to dawn. However, in Malaysia, midnight is the peak time.

“Different culture, or maybe they [the visitors] are not used to it,” said Uli.

For those who cannot make it to the event, do not despair. BBW is planning to hold another book sale in Bandung, possibly this year due to public demand. (kes)

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