As we come up to our first anniversary here at TNPS (September 25), one of the recurring themes has been the rise and rise of the international book sale phenomenon known as Big Bad Wolf.
In the west it can sometimes seems like the only show in town is Amazon, and no question Amazon is a powerhouse bookseller (both print and digital) where it chooses to play. But in much of the world Amazon, if it is known of at all, is a mythical beast, a digital land where the streets may be paved with gold but the gates to the city are firmly locked.
Territorial restrictions mean many books are not available, and for those that are print sales to most of the world come with heavy shipping charges. For ebooks Amazon imposes whispernet surcharges on ebooks outside of the Kindle countries. In many countries the Kindle store isn’t even visible, let alone accessible.
As noted in the recent TNPS post on Indonesia, neither Kindle devices nor the Kindle store are locally accessible except through third-party work-arounds.
So in much of the world readers turn to local booksellers and book fairs and festivals to get their literary fix, and for bargains the like of which Amazon cannot hope to match, readers turn to Big Bad Wolf.
Last month Big Bad Wolf took 3 million pristine new books to Bangkok.
That’s three million books, shipped in containers and laid out in a massive indoor venue for eleven days of literally non-stop 24/7 shopping. And that was just Bangkok.
Also last month Big Bad Wolf was shipping another 2 million books to Taiwan, where the debut event in Taipei drew huge crowds.
Huge crowds? I don’t have the Taiwan numbers yet but by way of example Big Bad Wolf Sri Lanka (1.5 million books) attracted 200,000 visitors, while the main Big Bad Wolf Indonesia (5.5 million books) drew over 750,000 visitors.
And here’s where it gets really interesting. Because most of these books were in English. For Jakarta 2018 no less than 4.5 million of the 5.5 million books laid out were in English.
And it seems eager readers just can’t get enough of Big Bad Wolf.
In February of this year Big Bad Wolf debuted in the Philippines, taking 2 million books to Pasay City. Just months later it was back in the Philippines with another 1 million books at a Big Bad Wolf sale in Cebu.
This month Big Bad Wolf is relaxing at home with the Ipoh mega-sale in Malaysia (September 14-23) before heading off to Surabaya for the second Big Bad Wolf mega-sale this year in Indonesia.
Yes, not content with the 5.5 million books Big Bad Wolf took to Jakarta, another 3 million books are being taken to Big Bad Wolf Surabaya in east Java later this month (Sept 27 – October 6).
In Malaysia itself, home of the Big Bad Wolf, events like Ipoh happen throughout the year, but the main event is the Big Bad Wolf Malaysia book sale in December. Last year Big Bad Wolf laid out 4.5 million books.
While plans have not been confirmed yet, it looks like Big Bad Wolf will be debuting in Dubai next month, and the Big Bad Wolf also has plans – again, no dates yet – for further debuts in Bangladesh, South Korea and Iran.
For Big Bad Wolf coverage from TNPS over the past year and further insights into the world’s biggest booksale, check out the links below.