Malaysia has a reading problem. More specifically, Malaysia has a lack-of-reading problem, where only 3% of Malaysians read books regularly.
Although it does seem like our TRP readers are quite a well-read bunch!
Yet Malaysians love books, as proven by a survey conducted by Polish e-commerce firm Picodi.
So there’s certainly a demand for books, but Malaysia doesn’t have a supply of books easily available for cheap.
Which means that if books were made a lot cheaper, more Malaysians would be willing to pick up a book or two more often.
Which is exactly what founders Andrew Yap and Jacqueline Ng wanted to do when they first launched the Big Bad Wolf book sale in 2009: offer affordable, easily available books for everyone.
Jacqueline states that she wasn’t a reader. At the age of 14, a friend loaned her a novel, which she quickly finished. After that, she couldn’t stop. That was her turning point.
It’s the reason why she’s adamant that all it takes is just one book to change a non-reader to a reader.
The problem is accessibility.
Regular-priced books are quite expensive. At an average price of RM50 per book, it’s not something easily affordable in large quantities for most people.
Over 76% of Malaysian readers favour fiction as well, which often comes as part of a series or feature an extended world. Naturally, this would also mean a higher cost to purchase more books.
And while it’s essential to build reading habits since young, most parents can agree that consistently buying new children’s books end up being a significant financial burden.
Enter the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale, the largest warehouse book sale with books deeply discounted up to 95% to make reading accessible for everyone.
Suddenly, there’s very little cost to flirt with new genres or explore a new author. Pick up a book just for the pretty cover first, fall in love with the story later.
Jacqueline shared a story of how a young fresh graduate was able to feel proud purchasing books for her younger brother without worrying about going broke. With just RM20, she was able to buy 3 books and make her brother happy.
And the Big Bad Wolf is full of such stories: parents bulk buying books for their children, teens branching into young adult novels, comic book enthusiasts finding a hardcover edition of their favourite series, and even the non-reader browsing with a friend, unknowingly picking up the one book that would change their life forever.
She also notes that kids who start reading never really stop. Back in 2009, the Big Bad Wolf stock of young adult (YA) novels never sold. So they kept the stock of YA novels low until 2015, when the sale suddenly sold out of their entire stock of YA, and every year since then, YA has been one of the most well-loved genres.
But why the sudden jump in sales? Jacqueline eventually realized it’s simply because a whole generation of readers grew up and moved from reading children’s books to young adult novels.
Andrew and Jacqueline understand how important accessibility is, which is why they made sure the book sale has no barriers to entry.
The Big Bad Wolf book sale has always been free entry and open 24/7, allowing anyone to visit at anytime.
This year, they are celebrating their 10th anniversary of the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale with a record-breaking 50,000 titles, which is double last year’s number, and peppering the event with daily special activities.
We never thought we would grow so big. We started with just 120,000 books and magazines in 2009. This year, we’re bringing in 3 million books!Jacqueline Ng, co-founder of Big Bad Wolf Books
So bring a friend or two, even if they don’t read. Who knows, they may find their turning point.
Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.