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Tuesday 8 May 2012

The Penang Bookshelf May 2012 Newsletter

The Penang Bookshelf
May 2012 Newsletter
From The Penang Bookshelf
Dear Friend

Reviving Slowly 

Once upon a time this newsletter  was entitled 'The March Newsletter' and now it's May! My genorosity in keeping silent has run out. Now's the time to turn the screws again.

It's taken me a bit of time to wake up following my trip to the UK. The trip was short, but hectic. I was theoretically based in London, but made one trip to Scotland and two to Wales. Of course the love affair with Wales had nothing to do with the countryside - barely noticed it -but more to do with a huge stash of books about Malaysia and hereabouts. There were so many I couldn't work my way through them all. What I did manage to retrieve are beginning to appear on the March and April lists of new arrivals on the website. They're mainly the leather bound ones. If either I or thebookseller can be persuaded to communicate with each other more frequently, there could be literally hundreds more on the way before the end of the year, decade or whatever.

Random Reviews 
The UK trip did have one other benefit, for me at any rate - I started reading again, properly instead of skimming. Because of all the fuss about it, I picked up a copy of Malayan Spymaster at the airport and managed to finish it by the time I made it home to Penang again. It's already been more than adequately reviewed by a KL customer, so I won't add any more. However since no one else has followed up on my suggestion that other customers might like to join in the reviewing frenzy, I thought I would have a go myself. As you'll see from my first selection, like the rest of my life, it's fairly random. After I finish one I pick up the next book I stumble over. The first two have just been published on The Penang Bookshelf Blog.  The books will be rare, like the first one reviewed, commonplace, new and old. I'd still love it if others would contribute too. There could be hefty financial incentives involved, so do contact me if you feel inspired or in need of a financial fillip to afford my prices.

Internet Intricacies

Of course the internet is The Penang Bookshelf's lifeblood but I still labour to really get to grips with it. The internet not only reaches more customers, but helps me to concoct an impression that I'm a well organised book 

Public Face
dealer with every book within a few inches of his finger tips. Of course the reality may be a little different. Anyway we seem to have made a little progress with the website changes that I want. You can see what we're working on for yourself. There are several changes we're thinking about such as having past newsletters
Private Reality
 available on the site, feedback, which I'll try not to censor, etc. However if you have any ideas of things that you'd like to see, do contact me. The main change will be to have the base prices in ringgit, instead of USD. At the same time overseas customers, about half of The Penang Bookshelf's clientele, will be able to make conversions into non-ringgit currencies.
.While The Penang Bookshelf's been on Facebook for a while and picked up lots of likes - thanks! - I've also been experimenting with Google Plus which could offer more potential as it appears it's possible to use pages as categoriies  instead of using Facebook's cumbersome albums. The full list created so far is at the end of the email in the 'About the Penang Bookshelf' section. As yet most have just one book in each category.  More substantial pages, at the moment, include Colonial Biography, Malaysian Literature, Malaysia Miscellaneous, and World War II. I think the idea is that you can join a 'circle' so that as new books appear in the categories in which you're interested, you get to know about them and maybe  make rude comments about them too. You may need to sign up/sell your life to Google before you can see them.    

Out and About

After missing out a month, The Penang Bookshelf reappeared at the Little Penang Street Market a week ago and did reasonably OK. However next weekend on 12th May we'll
try to smarten up our act a bit by attending the Super Stylish Shopping event at the Garden Wing Lobby Lounge at Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa. (10am - 4pm) What a mouthful! The Penang Bookshelf's main competitor, Popular Picture History, will be there too, so there'll be no need for air-con. Our frosty looks should keep the temperature fairly cool. Oh, if only life were that dramatic. We put on a good show of friendship and have even been known to buy books off each other! John will be selling maps and other Penang ephemera, while I do the books this time.

Even more intrepid adventures are planned for June when The Penang Bookshelf hits KL for 
the first time! There'll be more news later, but for the time being maybe KL and Klang Valley customers might like to note the dates of the 23rd and 24th June from midday to 8pm for the 5th KL Alternative Bookfest at The Annexe Gallery, Central Market. If there are any particular books or types of books you'd like me to bring, do let me know.

Enjoy yourself till we're in touch again, unless you've made other plans   

William Knox
The Penang Bookshelf

Anyone Have These?

As I repeatedly remind you, I do my best to find books for customers as well as try and sell what's already lounging about on my shelves. In about 20% of the cases I fail, so there's a Customers' Wish List on The Penang Bookshelf Blog which seeks to tempt those of you miserably clutching onto such gems, to part with them. Recently the following have been added to the list -
  • A Gallery of Chinese Kapitans - C.S. Wong
  • Black and White Fairies of Old China - Cheah Keng Cheen 
  • Malayan Notes and Sketches - A.Talaivasingham (Nanyang Siang Pau Press, Singapore 1921)
  • Misa Melayu (any pre-1967 edition)
  • Seorang Tua di Kaki Gunung - Azizi Haji Abdullah
  • Tuhfat al-Nafis (the 1965 edition by Munir Ali)  
If you have any of these works why not dispose of them for a bit of cash and then fill the empty spaces on your bookshelf  with more purchases from The Penang Bookshelf?

The Oldest Profession

When finding books for customers, I don't just confine myself to Malaysian/Asian books. I am prepared to  to find other books by prostituting myself on street corners to earn a few extra ringgit. Recently The Penang Bookshelf has tracked down copies of Homer's Iliad and 'Brilliant Copywriting.' (An extra copy for the writer of this newsletter wouldn't have gone amiss.) However my most enjoyable purchase was 21 novels by the king of cowboy writers, Louis L'Amour, who I'd never heard of before. I'm told that The Penang Bookshelf often provides a better service than some of the major Malaysian book stores, so do try us.  

In and Out of Print, but You Can Help  

I suppose it's the obsessive compulsive in me, but one of the real binds about this business is when books go out of print.  I'm one of those people who always must have an extra tube of toothpaste, bottle of orange juice or bar of soap in the cupboard. I just hate running out of things. It all started last month when I discovered that The Penang Bookshelf's  last copy of Andrew Barber's Penang under the East India Company was sold 
 when I was in the UK and then another customer embarrassingly ordered a copy when apparently there was none to be had. In this case the story had a happy ending as some badgering of the publisher managed to unearth a few extra copies which should be here this week. I am also told that the book is being or has been reprinted. 

However there are sorrier stories about. I also discovered that  Penang Trams, Trolleybuses & Railways have run out of juice and are unlikely to be refuelled. If you want the last seat - no I'll abandon this laboured metaphor. There is one copy left at double the normal price. You  know how it is lah.

A miserable discovery was that The Penang Sketchbook had also gone down the swanny. (I suppose it's the result of my shameless plugging of the book in the past.) However in this case, dear reader, you have a part to play. I have been in touch with the publishers and they may be able to get the presses rolling again if they can be guaranteed the sale of at least a thousand copies. That doesn't mean that you have to go out and find a thousand people who don't already own the book, but you may know of one or more institutions who have sufficient shilling at the bottom of their drawer to make such a commitment. If you can think of any, do let me know. In the meantime The Penang Bookshelf does still have a few copies and the price is actually less than the recommended retail price - for now!

A much happier tale, which quite honestly had tears rolling down my cheeks, was the really heart warming story of the discovery , sale and republishing of P, Ramlee's Sitora Harimau Jadian. 
 It was part of the cache of  Malay Books  that The Penang Bookshelf got hold of last year. There's no need for me to repeat the lovely story just read it all here in Amir Muhammad's Blog. I already have a copy in stock, but needless to say will be ordering more. Why the tears? Because it illustrates for me why I'm in the book selling business, i.e. to find and preserve books for you to enjoy and make use of. Here's another illustration of this in a US bookseller's blog.

An Achievement

At last at the end of last month I managed to reach a target  of having loaded 40% of The Penang Bookshelf's priced inventory on to the website. The rest of the stuff hanging around waiting to be uploaded one day still appears on The Penang Bookshelf's Full Inventory where you'll find more of bits and pieces picked up on my UK trip as well as my  visit to the KL International Book fair last week.

The Next Target

The plan  for May is to tackle  this lady and the rest of her pals amongst the stacks of Jawi Books that are cluttering my storage space as well as the 50s and 60s  Rumi Books that keep them company. I doubt I will manage to get through them all, but at least you should see many more exposed to view, so they'll be easier to buy, if they catch your fancy.    

Calling All Japanese Bibliophiles

A fellow IOBA member has alerted The Penang Bookshelf to the fact that there's a collection of books in Japanese from the mid-1970's and earlier available from an Illinois University. There are nearly 500 books on Japanese history, literature, cultural studies and Korean and Chinese history. The librarian will supply a catalogue to anyone who's interested. If you know of anyone who might like to find out more, please put them in touch with the librarian, Patricia A. Tomczak. There's no need to use The Penang Bookshelf as an intermediary, but if you wish to do so, let me know. However, in that case I would want to charge.


About The Penang Bookshelf
The Penang Bookshelf specialises in providing book lovers with a broad range of new and second-hand books, both fiction and non-fiction, primarily about Malaysia, but also about other parts of Asia as well. 

Independent Online Booksellers Association, Professional Member.

Also at: ,Ebay and at IOBAbooks

The Penang Bookshelf at Google+

For other general books, bargains & collectables, please visit Amok Amongst Books


Telephone: +60-12-972-6485 
Shop: c/o Areca Books, 70 Lebuh Acheh (Acheen Street), George Town Penang. (Opening Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 11am - 3pm & Saturdays 10am - 1pm. Other times by appointment.) 
Business Address:  Aquarius, 4-8-8 Jalan Low Yat, Batu Ferringhi, 11100, Penang. (Opening hours by appointment only.) 
Mailing Address: 36, Cheeseman Road, 11600 Penang, Malaysia

Registered Business No: PG0282219-D
The Penang Bookshelf's Loyalty Points   
Whenever you make a purchase from The Penang Bookshelf, while being a subscriber to this news letter, 10% of the purchase price of the book excluding postage will be credited to you to use to discount the price of your next purchase.You will not earn points if the purchase price was discounted or the book was on special order where a service fee is charged. Points will also be awarded as special prizes announced in the newsletter. Points will expire six months after they have been earned.  Points will be recorded in Malaysian Ringgit and you may check your available points balance by contacting The Penang Bookshelf at any time.

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