Book Snob

I swear I can metamorphose into a stark raving lunatic whenever I find myself in the wondrous confines of a bookstore. As a result of my slightly unconventional behavior, I suspect that a few sales assistants at MPH would secretly give their proverbial right arm for the privilege of duct-taping my lips shut – and for keeping them so sealed until the dawn of the apocalypse.

But it’s nothing personal, it’s just books.

Living in this quirky (but ever so real world) that exists in my head, I often help (read: on my own initiative) rearrange books in MPH, Borders, Kinokuniya and independent bookstores according to their respective genres and author’s names. I believe that this is the least I could do in return for them allowing me to read their precious books for free. However, I don’t think the storeowner is even aware (or approves) of this arrangement.

When occasion warrants it, I also would write disgruntled emails detailing a shop’s seeming lack of soul in selling books. At times, I would also call to ask them the most inane of questions about their new arrivals and bestsellers lists.

Sorry for being pedantic, but this world can’t move on its rightful axis when a giant bookstore labels its shelves like this:

I once asked a book assistant at – I should refrain from naming; let’s avoid litigation shall we? – regarding the whereabouts of Theroux’s latest title, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star. For my troubles, I was confronted with the assistant’s overconfident, “Oh, that’s in Astronomy’s section please”. And I suppose 84 Charing Cross Road would therefore be in the – let’s see – maps section?

Spare me the torture, dear friends. Please take a knife and deliver unto me an untimely death so I can fly to the Utopia of books where the ignorant and non-book-lovers are denied entry.

Through the years, I find myself raving on the same topic for years – what more with the advent of social media platform where over-sharing is considered the new black. Here’s an example, I once tweeted the Prime Minister about the ridiculously exorbitant book prices in this country. No, let me be honest – I tweeted him about 10 times. The busy man, however, has never replied.

Now, I will take matters into my own hands. My friend (read: the poor financier) and I will open our own bookstore. No, it is not my intention to give Amazon.com a run for its money. My aspirations are of a much humbler nature: I just want to share with you books that can challenge, move and maybe perhaps even steal a permanent place in your heart.

If I were a trust fund baby, I would have opened something like this yesterday:

Alas, since life has plans on its own (often quite independent from mine), I will instead start with something like this to appease this hunger for sharing books.

In the meantime, I will start reviewing books deemed fit for sharing in Book Snob on a weekly basis.  When the website is launched to all and sundry, I pray for your support. And if you were to ask what kind of bookshop it will be, I will answer, “It’s simply a place where good books meet”.

If patience is your forte, you could place your order via this blog or the following links: FacebookTwitter.

Let’s start with some gems from our neighboring country, shall we?

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7 thoughts on “Book Snob

  1. I just wish that i have the same powerful command of the english and malay language as you. I could have been a better man if i put more effort in learning the language in my early years. But i guess God has his own plans. Whatever it is, all of your friends have been, and will always support you in the pursuit of your dream.

    Looking forward to booksnob. Im sure its gonna be great just as the person who is behind it.

  2. My dear,I did tried in vain starting a publishing house in the early 90’s.Was an agent of an antique Books then.I fail.Over a witty conversation with someone known in the publishing world,his witty remark ‘..diMalaysia ni jual durain lebih baik drp.jual buku…’!!
    True.However,give it a thought of e-books.Its catching up and there’s available ready market.

  3. Congratulations, Michelle!! Your writing is effortless, entertaining yet matured… Witty and a joy to read! I admire your time management, dedication and passion- all of which you serve up with elegance! Looking forward to the weekly reviews although I am usually tardy! Congrats again… Love the library that you aspire to have (the top pix). I hope to have one too!

  4. Now that reminds me – haven’t been to any bookstore for a couple of months and I feel sort of guilty. Especially when I’m now in a place where there are very decent bookstores not too far away from the house. Not that these stores would lose much from my absence, for most of the time I’d just spend two hours reading this and that without buying anything. Being a cheapskate is one of the reasons:-P

    I’d only buy when I feel I’m getting a good bargain, and most of the books now are rather pricey. I can’t think of any reason why books should be at their current prices. It appears as if publishers are trying to make up for their lower sales by squeezing more from those who do buy. If you look at the exchange rates, it’s no longer 1999 when US$1 = RM3.80. The British pound and euro have also depreciated against the ringgit during the last couple of years. From 1 euro = RM5.00 and 1 pund = RM6.00 or so in 2009, both have gone down by at least 20%. And the dollar is now at RM3.06. But these aren’t reflected in the prices of books.

    Right now I’d only buy when I’m comfortable with the price. “Best-selling” and Top 10 lists don’t mean much to me. Not when they are at RM50 and above. I’m also not too concerned about the publication date. From previous experience, if a book is good, it should still be so 10 years later. Like Red Storm on the Reich – The Soviet March on Germany, 1945 (published in 1993), which is worth the RM10 I paid at Carrefour Kota Damansara last month.

    I miss that temporary stall which was set up at the ground floor of Sunway Giza three months ago. They had books (some `new enough’) at RM8-15, and their presence was such a delight for me. This post has aroused the interest again – I’m going to look around at the bookstores again when I have the chance.

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