Saturday, August 18, 2007

Prices of Books

I've read some comments in the newspaper before, on the high cost of books in Malaysia. A paperback novel from oversea will cost around RM30-40, a local Malay novel around RM30, a serious read on any specific field of knowldege from RM30-200 and a book on Islam could cost as much as RM180 or more.Even books for children and students are not something you can buy with your out-of-pocket expense surplus.

Is there an authority out there looking at this matter? How can we develop a reading culture when to buy a good read is a sacrifice, and in some cases clearly beyond what a non-executive employee can afford. I used to buy text books when I went on a seminar to the Philippines before. Textbooks on economics, philosophy, sociology etc, that would cost hundreds of Ringgit in Malaysia ( and often not available) would cost only RM10-20. They're, of course, printed on cheap newsprint. But who cares. I want to read not eat them.

Over in Malaysia I can see some cheap novels and general read compiled from odd sources ( not even entire original), printed on expensive glossy papers. No wonder the cost is surprisingly high. I wanted to publish a novel on newsprint paper like the novels from the U.S. to keep the price down. The publisher would not do it for it wouldn't sell. "The only novels that'll sell today," he says, " will be teen-age love stories," and he asks me to write some. Very tempting but....let the young people write them, from their own experience!

So, parents!!! You just have to create a proper budget for purchasing books.We have no choice but the young people would have to decide to pass over a number "makans" and "cinemas" or "outings" to buy some good books. Those who can afford have other interesting things to do beside reading, and whose who can't afford, well, join the crowd! They read less than 2 books a year!

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