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33 cities, 11 countries and a whole lot of books

Poovenraj Kanagaraj and Va Sonyka / Khmer Times Share:
The festival has made its way from home base Kuala Lumpur all the way to Phnom Penh. GT2/Srey Kumneth

Dubbed as the world’s biggest book sale, the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale has made its presence known in over 30 cities around the world. From its home base, Kuala Lumpur, all the way to Phnom Penh as its latest addition, husband-wife duo Andrew Yap and Jacqueline Ng has brought the joy of reading to millions.

“We never expected to receive such tremendous support. Our dream has always been to sell books at an affordable price,” said Yap. Both Yap and his wife started off their journey in 2007 with a small bookstore called BookXcess that dealt primarily in remaindered books from international distributors.

They eventually realised that they could not create a bigger impact with just their bookstore and had decided that they had to be bold and create something that would be the talk of town. This resulted in the birth of the first Big Bad Wolf Book Sale.

“We took the risk to create a bigger impact and to sell books at a lower price and that’s when we created our first Big Bad Wolf Book Sale,” said Yap.

Starting the journey

In 2009, Yap and Ng decided to go big and hosted a pop-up book sale in capital city, Kuala Lumpur that would offer books of various genres at affordable prices. Yap says both he and Ng needed to test their new strategy and to their surprise the demand for affordable books went off the roof as visitors would often sweep off all the books during the sale.  Eventually, the strategy worked and the book sale model grew bigger with increasing interest and earning a title as the World’s Biggest Book Sale.

The Big Bad Wolf Book Sale is going on until January 20, from 9am to 12am daily. GT2/Srey Kumneth

In 2016, the duo decided to venture outside of Malaysia, taking the book sale to Indonesia and Thailand and three years later, they expanded into 32 cities in 10 different countries, establishing a presence in  Philippines, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates among other countries. 2020 saw Cambodia as the 11th country and Phnom Penh the 33rd city for the book sale to come into.

Bringing reading culture to Phnom Penh

“Big Bad Wolf Books firmly believes in making a positive impact on the lives of people by engendering a love for reading and creating a sense of curiosity about the world,” said Yap, who believes that was the drive behind bringing the book sale with over a million books to Phnom Penh.

“This is in conformity with our goal to changing the world one book at a time. Our single-minded pursuit of this goal has taken us to different corners of the world, with many frontiers to be conquered,” added Yap.

He goes on to say that the book sale must be viewed in a broader context in regards to the long-term impact it would have on the book industry and readership in the Kingdom.

Such festival can cultivate a new-found love towards reading among Cambodians. GT2/Srey Kumneth

The duo behind the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale also hopes to jump-start a culture of reading in the country through this initiative, which they also hope to create a new generation of readers who will not only help create a larger market or books, but at the same time lift the country to greater heights.

The book sale that took place on Jan 9 is expected to last till Jan 20 at the Rung Reung Market, was definitely not the scale of an event Cambodians would have expected. With over one million brand-new English books with 50 percent to 90 percent off recommended retail price, visitors can expect to find children’s books, fiction and non-fiction, catering to people from different generations.

According to Yap, the first four days of the Book Sale saw at least 50,000 visitors crowd the venue with students, young adults and family searching through tables of books. Yap and his team are optimistic the Sale would be a success given the amount of interest they have received from various individuals and groups across the country.

Shop till you drop at Big Bad Wolf with major slashdowns on prices. GT2/Srey Kumneth

“We are positively hopeful that this will jump-start a culture of reading English language books in Cambodia,” said Yap.

Em Chanrithykol, founder of a building game Doy Doy, who was present at the sale, says being able to go through book samples helps visitors to feel the material and paper quality as well.

“Most of the books here are very limited. We can only find them in premium bookstores which usually cater to higher income people and foreigners. So I think by coming to this event, we can find books in affordable prices that would usually be double the price in bookstores,” Chanrithykol added.

High school teen, Sim Hoklyly recalls her previous experiences in attending book fairs but never one at this scale.

She also expresses gratitude that the book sale caters to all age groups, as her parents were also indulging in buying some books for themselves.

Yap further says that the book sale had played a role in cultivating a reading culture as the number of visitors to the book sale has been steadily increasing as the awareness is there to grasp English as a new language for a person to elevate their status in life.

He believes that the Big Bad Wolf Books is not just a company that organises book sales but also serves as a reading advocacy organisation.

“It has always been our mission to spread the love of reading and to change the world one book at a time,” says Yap, who hopes that through this platform, more people will be empowered with knowledge and is inspired to chase their dreams.

This year, the team behind the world’s biggest book sale is planning to organise the Book Sale to at least 45 cities and adding onto the effort, they have also partnered with Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) to further expand the access to affordable books to all members of society in the Middle East and Africa regions.

“We always believe that it only takes one book to convert a non-reader to a reader.

“This is a platform that we have created to inspire people by empowering them to achieve their dreams with the knowledge received,” concludes Yap.

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