Friday, December 09, 2016

Review: Big Bad Wolf Book Sale 2016

For those of you who know me, you would know that I am really passionate about books. Not the e-book kind where you look at a screen, but those physical copies where you can touch, see, feel, breathe in and admire. 

In a way, I have my upbringing to thank for my love for books. I always got books as presents, and I would read everywhere. In the car, lying down, under the covers, where you can think of, I've most probably read there before. Thankfully my parents never really discouraged me from books, so this love affair grew and grew and never stopped.

Fast forward to today, needless to say I look forward to the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale every end of the year. Why? Because of the great discounts!!!! I used to pay RM30 plus for a book, but nowadays thanks to Bookxcess, I usually pay RM17.90 or below for new books. The past few years, I don't buy books at retail prices anymore because I know that at the end of the year, I will get those titles for only RM10-RM12 per book.

This year my dear friend managed to get her hands on a preview pass and I was beyond the moon. Long story short, I went and here's what I thought of this year's sale, together with some things you can expect.

1. There are more perks this year. If you're a Hong Leong Bank cardholder, you get a 5% discount with a minimum spend of RM180. Also, if you head to the HLB booth and show them your card, you will be given a voucher whereby you can redeem a free cupcake and bottled water. Not bad.

2. There are more discount opportunities this year. Apart from the HLB discounts, if you don't have a HLB card, don't fret. You can also get discounts if you're a Digi user, 3% discount with a minimum spend of RM99. Not as much as 5%, but better than nothing. Just type in BBW and send to 20000. You will get an SMS which you can show the cashier and get the discount. But of course with all discounts you can only utilise one. So if you use the HLB card, you are not entitled to use the Digi discount, and vice versa. Also, if you're a Wolf Pack member, you get RM5 off for every RM100 spent!

3. There is a premium booth where you could find the expensive collector's items, and it's located near the entrance so you won't miss it. 

4. If you love the Big Bad Wolf so much, you can even buy their merchandise! I didn't browse, so unfortunately I'm not able to tell you how much the prices are, but you can check them out when you go.

5. They have trolleys now!!! In limited quantities, yes, but they have trolleys!! 

6. Personally, I feel that there were significantly less books this year. Maybe because they toured so much this year that they have depleted stocks? In previous years, the whole floor was taken up with books, while food and other stalls were relegated upstairs. But this year, the top floor was empty, food and stuff were all downstairs where the books are. 

7. With smaller space, I guess they also reduced the storage area. It used to be way bigger than this.

8. Book choices this year were also pretty limited and not as exciting as last year. Previously, the moment I entered, there would be something that caught my eye immediately. However, this time I took a little longer to see anything that caught my fancy. I wasn't the only person who thought this way, the general consensus in the book clubs that I am a part of also concurred with me. The past few years, I would spend about 600-700 per trip. This year, I spent less than RM250 (which by all accounts should be a good thing, considering I shouldn't be spending that much anyway). My trolley wasn't even full. Not that I want to spend that much money, but it does say something, doesn't it?

Yes, that's my cupcake and drink thanks to HLB

There was considerably less General Fiction islands, and sports only has two islands.

Of course, having said that, I wouldn't totally say that it is devoid of good titles. There are quite a number of boxsets, and full series (I managed to get my full Mysteries collection from Enid Blyton!). There are lots of James Dashner (The Maze Runner trilogy), The Millenium Series in hardcover (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series), The Hunger Games trilogy (in two different designs).  Their literature section was also pretty extensive, I think you will find lots of titles you want there if you're a big fan.

Children's sections are pretty huge this year. I would say, about half of the layout are dedicated to children's books. There are picture books, board books, activity books. There are even quite a number of Enid Blyton series. I saw a lot of St Clares, Mallory Towers, Famous Five, and other standalone titles with assorted stories. I got one hardcover EB for my nephew at RM30 (which was a little higher from previous prices that I've seen BBW had).

This Ladybird boxset has four stages of reading levels. Going for RM300.

Oh and an abundance of Cassandra Clares.

If you love LEGO, there is an abundance of LEGO books, especially of the Ninjago series. There's even a Star Wars Character Encyclopedia, with a Limited Edition Han Solo figurine, going for only RM25. If you're a Wolf Pack member, it's RM22.

They finally have a Chinese section, and a pretty extensive one at that. So if you are looking for mandarin books, you might be quite happy here. I'm not too sure about the selections though, as I don't read or write Mandarin, so I can't help you on that, sorry!

Oh and if you're big on adult colouring books, there is an entire island dedicated to colouring books. Best part is, they have the Lost Ocean on sale too. You know, Johanna Basford's third colouring book after Enchanted Forest, before Magical Jungle. It's going for RM12, but if you're a Wolf Pack member, you get it for only RM10.

9. So having talked about the book choices, let's go to the arrangements. The arrangements this year were a little haphazard. Even though you had the children's sections, it moves on to the Young Adults, then general fiction. Then suddenly out of nowhere, there's another island of Children's books, and yet another of Young Adults. I mean, it's not like they ran out of space.

I read somewhere that it's put that way for a reason, and that reason is the flow, to make it easier for customers. Not entirely sure what they meant with that, but if you go to the sale, you will understand what I mean. There is one Children's island after General Fiction, but the entire Children section is on the left when you come in. Then there is a stray Young Adult island also somewhere in the vicinity on the right, which doesn't make sense because YA's are labelled on the left. 

10. Not sure if they stress tested the credit card terminals prior to the sale, but there was a time (which was quite a long while) when the credit card terminals were down. Everyone had to queue to pay via cash and the queue extended all the way to the HLB booth. That is a VERY long ways away. If it was bad today, imagine when you reach the weekend and everyone who's anyone is there. The queue will be a nightmare. Hope they resolve it soon. I read that a lot of people had to leave their books because they didn't have enough cash with them. The nearest ATM is next door, in the shopping centre.

11. There wasn't an efficient system in letting customers know which cashier was available. There were guides telling customers where to go, but even then, it was quite messy. Take me, for example. I was brought to cashier number 3. But when I arrived, there was another customer in front of me who hasn't even had her books scanned yet, because the cashier was still handling the payment for another customer! For someone who already wanted to check out, having to wait even after being brought to the cashier already made me a little impatient. When I reach a cashier, I would expect that you would have already finished settling your previous customer before calling me there. Maybe they wanted to speed up the process. But making a customer wait in line is enough. Not getting them out of the line to the cashier, and having to wait again. 

All the orange shirts were cashiers and their assistants

Ok, so moving away from that topic, when the customer in front of me was already in the process of paying, her books have been removed from the side table after they have scanned it. So naturally, as a person who wants to pay, as in any supermarket line you go to,  you would take the books out of your basket and line them up on the table in anticipation of them being scanned. But no, I was not allowed to put anything on the table because (maybe) it might confuse the cashier. 

Ok, noted on that. After the lady in front of me left, they then proceeded to put my books on the table. They had already keyed in my name, and were just about to scan my books when the lady before me came back and told me that the cashier had overcharged them for a book. But wait, weren't you organised enough to ensure that there was no double scanning of books? I mean, you didn't allow me to put my books there because you didn't want to confuse the cashier right? There was a flurry of activity after that, each part-timer calling one part-timer after another, looking for another person who could authorise the refund. They kept on interrupting the cashier, while she was in the process on scanning my items. Oh and apparently they have not keyed in some of the items that I wanted to buy. So they were taking out my items that have been scanned and putting them back in. 

Of course, I was also worried that they would overcharge me. The cashier was constantly interrupted. Who knows, she could have scanned the same item twice! So I made it a point to double check everything she scanned to make sure that it tallies with what I bought. But really guys, I know the cashier overcharged the previous customer. But please wait for the cashier to finish what she is currently doing before doing the refund. Check out processes are usually done with less fuss. I've been to many BBW sales and my check out is always smooth. Usually in and out in less than ten minutes. But this time, I can daresay I was there for at least 20 minutes or more. 

12. People were buying books by the truckloads, and they were letting them do so. I guess you could argue that yes, it's a free market, people are allowed to buy however many books they want. But it didn't sit well with me because, have you seen the amount of books this lady is buying?!?! That's a cart, not a trolley. 

And the suspicious thing about it is, she is buying at least ten or more copies of each book! When I asked the staff if they are letting her buy all those, they asked me, why not? Well, for starters, because the books are so cheap, there have been cases of book sellers purchasing books in bulk to sell at their own stores (that I have heard of on Fb). These people take advantage of these cheap prices for their own gain. If, this lady is buying all these for a kindergarten or learning centre, then please, by all means, do so. But I feel at the very least, the staff should check that this lady is legit before allowing her to purchase so many books (or perhaps they did, but it doesn't seem so to me at the time). 

After all, these books are for those who genuinely love to read and love books (yes it's idealistic I know) but by allowing these scalpers to purchase books for their own gain, it's just wrong in my eyes. You are depriving other people of the opportunity to own a book they might potentially love. Agree or disagree with me, I just feel it's not right.

At the end of the day, what did I get?

As always, BBW bookmarks are a pleasure to have. I love their design theme this year. And if not mistaken, there will be a few more new designs to be distributed to customers in the coming days. 

Yup, this is my damage. Like I said, there are a few good buys, but previously I would be able to find at least three or four James Pattersons. Today I only found one. I would say my best buy of all would be my Enid Blyton Mystery series. The Five Find Outers are still my favourite EB charaters. 

So, is the BBW Sale worth going?

If you're a first timer, I would say yes, it is. Don't let my comments affect you. It could be my experience was the only different one from everyone out there. Even if you are not a book person, there's bound to be something you can buy there. If you're a seasoned book fair person, I would say perhaps one trip would be enough, as opposed to a few trips. But in true BBW fashion, I daresay they have not taken out most of the books yet, they still have some in store which they will slowly take out to tease and entice you to go back. After all, that's the strategy, yes?

So, the decision lies entirely up to you.

For more info and updates on the BBW Book Sale, you can head to their FB page here:

The BBW Book sale will be on from 9-19 December 2016 at MIECC, which is the Mines International Exhibition Convention Centre. It will start from 7 am on 9 December and go all the way until 9 pm on 19 December. Yes, it is open 24 hours.

Til the next time, stay beautiful!


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