Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Nutmeg Publishing - Spreading the News about Malaysia's Rich Heritage

As part of my attempt to bring to light the highways and byways of Malaysian writing and publishing, I’ve been in touch with Nutmeg Publishing  this month. Their editor is Claudine Sequerah, based in Sleangor, where Nutmeg was born in 2007. Nutmeg Publishing was started to publish the second book of Dennis De Witt, a historian and writer. So their first publication was his The History of the Dutch in Malaysia. Although the Dutch had been knocking about the Malaysian Archipelago for some time, they didn't venture too far from the limited area in and around Malacca, so their history tends to be forgotten about. De Witt's book therefore filled an important gap in local history. Certainly Nutmeg Publishing couldn’t have hoped for a better start. The book’s already out of print and going into a second reprint, which should be out later this year.
The other main publication of Nutmeg since it started is Melaka From The Top, again by Dennis De Witt. This is a history of the city that was prepared to coincide with Melaka becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site. The book is cleverly presented as it looks at the city’s history through comparative aerial photography both recently and in the past.
From this you can gather that Nutmeg’s niche market is ‘heritage’ publishing, i.e. it aims to promote interest and knowledge of Malaysia’s past through its output. Claudine is particularly keen to publish a Malaysian perspective of its people’s past and actively encourages Malaysians interested in writing about Malaysia’s history to contact her at nutmegpublishing@yahoo.com.

She tells me that one of the frustrations of her role is trying to find Malaysians interested in stirring themselves to write something worthwhile about the country’s past. Historical writing about Malaysia has been dominated for too long by people who loved the country and people, but were not born here. Alternatively if they were born here, they no longer live and work here.  That was understandable before independence when opportunities for academic study within the country were limited, but that should no longer the case. So hopefully Nutmeg will be able to benefit from current Malaysian scholarship.
Nutmeg Publishing have also successfully gone into book distribution. Again they do not stray from their particular speciality. They distribute two books by H. Berbar, Journey Through Penang  and Journey Through Malacca. Those of you who are aficionados of heritage books may well remember that he was also responsible for the photographic work on Heritage Houses of Penang, one of the Penang Bookshelf’s better selling titles. The two books distributed by Nutmeg are fairly unique in the heritage publishing world in that they have professional photography, are light and affordable (Price RM35) each.
Another title distributed by Nutmeg is Zakiah Hanum’s Historical Origins of Malaysian States.  Hanum used to be the Director of the National Archives, so the book has quite a few anecdotes based on archival material. The writing style is not academic, so it’s easily accessible for the general reader.
As if this wasn’t enough, Nutmeg also acquires and sells second hand books writing on the history and culture of Malaysia.  You can see their selection on their website.  Claudine says that she would like to expand this side of the business. Nutmeg mainly acquires books from individuals and other book vendors. However Claudine says that it’s difficult to prise collectors from their books. She appreciates that it shows people enjoy owning their books, even though it makes life more difficult for her.
Claudine enjoys her venture, especially introducing new readers to Malaysian history. She also appreciates the positive feedback that Nutmeg receives for the quality of their publications. However there are lows, i.e struggling with tough demands of larger bookshops for commissions and also coping with spiralling printing costs.
She plans to continue expanding Nutmeg Publishing as a web-based distributor of books, but her dream is to one day open a bookshop where customers can come and have a coffee and chat and browse all the treasures of literature about Malaysia. Claudine is keen for Nutmeg's page on Facebook so do pay them a visit.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Another Bundle of Books on the Way - More Offers Too!

Just to let you know that I'm still ordering books, restocking and finding new titles. Here's a collection that I've ordered recently, all of the second-hand. As usual I've marked probable prices in blue. In some cases I'm able to offer reduced prices, marked in red if the book is ordered and paid for within a calendar month of my order. If you want to place such an order, do contact me at penangbookshelf@gmail.com or on +60-12-972-6485.

16th July

Murder on the Verandah: Love and Betrayal in British  Malaya - Eric Lawlor RM30 Arrived!
Gift of Rain - Tan Twan Eng RM30 Arrived. Plus other copies of this book available at RM25 and RM40

24th July

These books arrived today, 11th August, but offers still available until 23rd. I've also added some further details.

Waterfalls of Malaysia (Hardback. Very good) - RM60/RM45
Farewell to the King - ,Pierre Schoendoerffer  (Ex-library hardback, Good +) - RM30
Malaysia's Economic Sustainability - Ramon Navaratnam (Hardback. Near Fine copy in dust jacket) - RM110/RM150
Paradise in Penang - Barbara Cartland  (Paperback. Very good) - RM30
Pagan Races of the Malay Peninsula (2 volumes) (Hardcover excellent condition. 1996 Barnes & Noble reprint) - Skeat & Blagden - RM600/RM450   SOLD!
South Indians on the Plantation Frontier in Malaya - Ravindra K Jain (Hardback in good dustjacket. The book itself looks almost new) - RM60
The Origin of Trade Unionism in Malaya - Charles Gamba (Hardback. Very Good. Ex library)- RM130/RM100
Wives and Midwives: Childbirth and Nutrition in Rural Malaysia - Carol Laderman (Paperback. Very good. Some shelf wear to cover. Ex-library) - RM30
British Trade and Policy in Indonesia and Malaya in the late Eighteenth Century - DK Bassett - (Hardback. Ex library. Some sunning of the spine. Very Good.) RM470/RM350
Spirits of Resistance; Factory Women in Malaysia - Ong Ai Hwa (Paperback. Very good. Some shelf wear to the cover) - RM25   
Tengku Abdul Rahman and Malaysia's Foreign Policy 1963-1970 - Ahmad Abdullah (Hardback ExLibrary. Author Signed Copy. Very Good) - RM100/RM80
Sylvia Queen of the Headhunters .- Phillip Eade (Paperback. As new except for five or six crumpled pages) RM30
The House at the Edge of the Jungle - Mary Morgan  (Hardback in dutsjacket. Exlibrary. Very Good) RM30

Southeast Asia's Second Front:The Power Struggle in the Malay Archipelago ( Very Good. Hardback in dustjacket. ExLibrary  - AC Brackman RM55

4th August

Post Mortem of Malaya - Virginia Thompson - RM100

7th August

Pagan Races of the Malay Peninsula (2 volumes) - Skeat & Blagden - RM500/RM400