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Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Penang Bookshelf's September 2013 Newsletter

The Penang Bookshelf's 
September 2013 Newsletter

From The Penang Bookshelf
Dear Friend

All Fingers and Thumbs   
Although it did take me four attempts to pass Elementary Maths when I was about 16, I still like to confuse myself with numbers. So I've been doing my bit at fiddling the books since I last
The 4 Rs of Asian Sopping Centre Management. (PB)
wrote. The quest? Where does The Penang Bookshelf's income come from? It was a bit startling to discover that only 40% of gross income from the last six months came from those of you who bought directly off the internet. The rest came from Penang and, significantly, from a sizeable chunk of you who opted for the 'personal touch' by phone, sms and email to buy what you'd seen on the internet. The lesson? On the eve of my first successful British driving test after a scar free five years in the mayhem of Kenyan motoring, my instructor pleaded with me ", Mr. Knox, you will pass if you just keep on remembering one word - Courtesy." OK, maybe I do need to be a bit sweeter. .

Think of a Number...Then Double It

After three years of fumbling, I'm gradually getting the hang of pricing. Most of The Penang Bookshelf's inventory has a 30% mark up whatever stupid price I've paid for the book. But null then you get puzzlers like this one, Musings of J.S.M.R. Mostly Malayan (PB).  As I surreptitiously look over my shoulder I see two other copies for sale online  at present. One's at twice the price of The Penang Bookshelf's copy and the other at about US$100 more and both are in a worse condition. If anyone knows what's so special about the book, I'd love to know. It's probably a case of the blind leading the blind. Yes, I'll probably settle for something less than advertised.

At least those two copies were already for sale before The Penang Bookshelf snaffled up its copy. However in the next case there were no
Mas Sepuloh - Baba Conversational Gems (PB).
copies, but additional copies miraculously appeared on Amazon not too long after The Penang Bookshelf's copy went up online. There's a chance that one or all of these copies are being advertised by what are known in the trade as 'scammers,' i.e. they don't actually have the book in stock, but will buy it off someone who does, if they get an order. So do be warned. And don't think it's just a US phenomenon. I think I've spotted at least one scammer in Singapore.

Bestsellers - Changes, But Not at The Top

The Penang Bookshelf's  Bestseller List (PB) has seen a few changes since the last newsletter. Sadly the only two Malay books on the list have dropped out for now but.Malayan Spymaster (PB) still holds its position on top. Whereas most of the other books on the list are sold either exclusively to customers at events or online, this one holds its own amongst both groups of customers.

Made It!

Although it's chicken feed compared to the inventory of most online booksellers, The Penang Bookshelf has managed to reach the heady heights of having a thousand books up online.The results of this frantic effort are reflected in
(PB)  and New Arrivals for September  (PB) Categories. August was a bit snoozy as I was away in the UK for most of it. I was sorely in need of a pick-me-up from Lupong: The Manang Healing Kit  (PB) after that exertion! However resting on laurels is strictly forbidden. A look at our full catalogue gives you some idea of the target.

Place Your BetsThe Penang Bookshelf's Third Anniversary has
Looking Back - Tunku Abdul Rahman (PB).
come and gone, but, like public holidays, you don't have to wait long for another reason to celebrate.The Penang Bookshelf's  Third Internet Anniversary falls on 3rd November. I suppose I should do something about it. In the past our spurious 'offers' don't seem to have affected sales patterns all that much. However, this time The Penang Bookshelf's creative team has decided to copy a recent bank promotion here and give subscribers to the newsletter a cash back. Of course you have to spend something first. The tortuous details are on The Penang Bookshelf Blog. I suppose it may appeal to the punters amongst you.

As usual, there's lots more to write, but I've probably tried your patience enough.

With best wishes and thanks,

William Knox
The Penang Bookshelf     

If you live in Malaysia and want to follow a link to a book, please click on the main link in each case. If you live elsewhere, please click on the (PB) link that follows the main link.

News Snippets 

So Long, Bibliobimbo! 

Since the last newsletter, Teresa, my Penang support, has joined the familiar Malaysian brain drain to null Singapore. Pity her. I'm already getting the equally familiar reports of exiles, i.e. that the city state ain't at all like home.  And just in case you're bridling at my sexist portrayal of this wretched escapee, the term was coined in retaliation against her calling me 'Ah Pek' ('old codger' in the Penang Hokkien dialect.) I'll be looking for a replacement in due course. So if you, or anyone you know , is interested in books, is computer savvy, wants to work part time, can put up with exploitative wages and believe you can learn something about the book trade at The Penang Bookshelf, do contact me.   Beef cake, bimbos or coffin dodgers are all welcome to apply. 

When One Door Closes...

 Almost as soon as Teresa was out of the way, The Penang Bookshelf had the good fortune to team up with Leo Books, one of the last independent book stores in Penang. They're based at Island Plaza and null sell a wide range of popular overstocked, out of print and used books of all descriptions. What do we do together? Well, apart from giggling and mutual back slapping, Leo kindly stock some of The Penang Bookshelf's books in their store, we've had a joint venture at Little Penang Street Market, and we're planning more joint operations for Penang bibliophiles.  Amongst other things they have played their part in shifting umpteen copies of Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya  (PB) which isn't surprising really.  A copy's never been sold to a customer who hasn't actually had the opportunity fondle the massive tome beforehand.  I've yet to find a way of making it look impressive online.  

Do Drop In

There seem to be a growing number of you with the courage and stamina to visit The Penang Bookshelf's chaotic mess in Batu Ferringhi that makes a feeble attempt to pass for a book shop. An average of more than one a week has turned up recently. One new customer flew all the way from KL to visit Penang for  a few hours. It was his first time here, but he didn't come for the food. He walked off with The Penang Bookshelf's most expensive sale to date. We were even graced with a party of about a dozen or so from Singapore on a literary tour of Penang. They begged me for a lecture which made me ponder a while on  the business. Two bits may be worth sharing - a) I prefer buying rather than selling books and b) as a result of (a) you're unlikely to find a similarly extensive collection of books for sale on Malaysia and Singapore anywhere else. However, do remember to call to make an appointment beforehand.  

Postal Pranks    

Malaysia's online selling community had a lovely excuse to moan  long and loud  when Pos Malaysia recently had a fairly clumsy attempt at muddling its overseas rates - and then changed its mind a couple of weeks later. I was sufficiently shook at the announcement to revive The Penang Bookshelf Blog again. I think so few people had attempted the fairly hopeless task of trying to make some sense of the news, that the trenchant analysis (sic) has been the most frequently read post ever! Since The Penang Bookshelf's growth is attributable to occasional learning from the horrible self-inflicted messes, we wondered what we could do about this one. So we're proud to announce an exciting but frustrating partnership with Pos Malaysia for the benefit of our US customers. We've rounded up a group of unemployed Mexican gauchos (cowboys) to establish Catapulta Correo (Catapult Mail?). Mexico, is priveleged to be the only place in the Americas which can receive cheap surface mail.  Honoured gauchos receive our packages which are then flung over the border to our grateful US clientele.

Promises are Made to be Broken, No? 

Although I keep telling myself that I need to stop accumulating and do more about selling, a life long addiction to rummaging in second hand bookshops is not that easy to shake off. So here's the latest lot, mainly from my trusty US support, Craig, who hangs about on the outskirts of Chicago. New and old stock take an age to find their way onto the websites, so, if there's anything that grabs your fancy, do contact me for more information. 

Tell Tales Signs

As any seasoned followers of The Penang Bookshelf's haphazard attempts at publicity will know, a few posts on The Penang Bookshelf Blog  usually indicate that a Newsletter is on the way. Nothing changes. The only recent post that I haven't referred to is the latest Random Review which has been sitting around half written for a while.You get three books roughly reviewed  for the price of one this time,

PaddingI forgot to mention last time that The Independent Online Booksellers Association were kind enough to ask me to write about my experiences
. If you haven't read enough already, look here.

The Penang Bookshelf is now a supposedly a Power Seller on eBay. It baffles me since to me the layout is far more confusing than on the main websites, but I'm not complaining.

And finally, on some days books just don't sell so this keeps me creative until the next sale.

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: AbeBooks.,Ebay and at IOBA  

Category Pages - Asian Fiction,      Asian History,     Asian ReligionsBorneo  Chinese Ceramics   Malaysian Architecture  Malaysian Agriculture   Malaysian Arts and Culture  Malaysia: CartoonsMalaysian Chinese Community  Malaysian Cooking and Food Malaysia: Colonial Biography,     Malaysia: Modern Biography,   Malaysia - Fiction  Malaysia: Journalism,    Malaysia: Language & Linguistics,     Malaysia: Literature, Malaysia: Malay Community   Malaysia & Singapore: 19th Century History,   Malaysia: Post-Independence HistoryMalaysia: Miscellaneous, Malaysian Nature and Wildlife    Orang Asli (Indigenous People)    Malaysian Poetry  Malaysian Politics  Malaysia: Religion   Malaysia & Singapore: World War II  Perak    Singapore: Anthropology & Sociology     Singapore Fiction


Telephone: +60-12-972-6485 
Business Address:  Aquarius, 4-8-8 Jalan Low Yat, Batu Ferringhi, 11100, Penang. (The Penang Bookshelf's entire inventory is available for browsing. Please call to fix an appointment.)  
Mailing Address: 36, Cheeseman Road, 11600 Penang, Malaysia

Registered Business No: PG0282219-D

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The Penang Bookshelf | 36 Cheeseman Road | Penang | 11600 | Malaysia


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