It was just over a month ago, on May 6, that the ten day Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair drew to a close. The KLIBF has pulled in two million visitors every year since 2013.
Just 34 days late and Malaysian booklovers are flocking to Kuala Lumpur for the country’s biggest trilingual book event, the annual Malaysia Bookfest.
Began back in 2006 the advent of social media and smartphones has driven awareness of the Bookfest such that this year the organizers, Popular Book Co (M) Sdn Bhd, have increased exhibition space from 12,000sq m to 14,000 sq m (150,000 sq ft) for the nine-day fair at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, with 700,000 visitors expected.
There will be a new Digital Pavilion in Hall 6, but the big western ebook retailers will be noticeable for their absence.
Currently only Google Play has a dedicated Malaysia ebook store, and that very much a token affair, meaning there is very little incentive for Malaysian publishers to digitise.
Yet as the attendance at these events show, there is plenty of interest in books in Malaysia.
And for anyone still in any doubt, I submit the Big Bad Wolf Malaysia event. Last December Big Bad Wolf organizers Bookxcess laid on 4.5 million books (no, that’s not a typo) for the annual eleven day book sale in Kuala Lumpur..
That’s the same Bookxcess that last month opened Malayia’s first 24/7 bookstore.
Malaysia. Just one of the many “invisible global book markets” many publishers and authors are indifferent to.