books, malaysia

Harry Potter & The Coup in Malaysia

When I decided to go ahead with covering the HP7 book release because we’ll never see anything like this again, I didn’t know how accurate that statement will turn out to be!

MPH, Popular, Harris and Times are not selling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in protest against Carrefour and Tesco, who are selling the book at RM69.90, hella cheaper than the recommended price of RM109.90. If you pre-ordered, you can still pick it up. According to one news article, you can opt to get a refund of your deposit (from MPH, if I read it right).

Read the full news article here.

Wow, did HP7 Day here get fucked up or what?

Over here in Kuching, Popular and Times had to turn away walk-ins because they had to follow the directive from their head office. There was a Popular release party planned in Tun Jugah, but it was canceled along with all nationwide events under the “Big 4” book stores.

You can still get a copy at the local, non-chained book stores like Premiere at Sarawak Plaza, Sinar Suci and MyBookStore at Jalan Haji Taha, and quite likely, Red Bookstore at the State Library and University Book Store at Wisma Saberkas.

I don’t think we’re really that affected because we don’t have those hypermarts here and still have to get the book through one of the book stores at the standard price.

When Joyce SMSed me yesterday with the news, I actually considered getting her to grab one for me because I’m not willing to shell out RM110 for a copy this year. But she ended up not going. As a consumer who is otherwise ambivalent about the last book and didn’t bother pre-ordering, I can’t really complain about the price slash!

On the other hand, the stores in Kuching actually had something planned this year. Things like this don’t usually happen in Kuching and it sucks bad to have that mat yanked from right under you.

Book sellers hoping to see returns for their promotional and marketing efforts are pissed off. I doubt if the hypermarts are turning a profit by selling the book. They don’t need to because they sell everything else. They are only seen as taking business away from the real book sellers. Says Eric Forbes of MPH:

Hypermarkets should just stick to their baked beans, ground coffee, prune juice, anchovies, chicken, milk and other stuff and leave books to the bookstore chains. The book’s distributor, Penguin Books, should withdraw stocks from the hypermarkets and let the bookstores do what they do best—sell books.

Somewhere else in the food chain, independent little book shop owners like Raman of Silverfish is cackling. Raman, who famously decided not to sell the seventh book this time, had this to say about the whole issue:

Isn’t that exactly what major chains have been doing to independent bookshops all these years? When they sell the latest release of a best-selling author below cost at their four-times-a-year ‘warehouse’ sales to attract customers, what did they think they were doing? Now they are protesting? Is that rich or what?

Meanwhile, the hypermarts are saying this:

When contacted, Carrefour Malaysia corporate communications and public relations manager Yuswanis Yusof said they wanted to provide the best for their customers.

She said besides selling groceries and other essential products, the hypermarket wanted to provide a chance for their customers to purchase the book at a lower price.

“It all depends on how one markets and promote its products,” she added.

Tesco Malaysia division manager Janice Chan when contacted said they wanted to make sure their customers could read the book at a cheaper price.

“We are popular for selling products at a lower price, and books are no exception.

The move is genius on their part. Lure the Potheads in with cheap books. While they (and their parents) are there, maybe they will consider buying some of their other very cheap products.

The boycott itself is interesting. You have to wonder what they’re doing while they are not selling Harry Potter this weekend.

The four chains, with a total of 100 outlets nationwide, said they were protesting the indiscriminate discount and wanted to show customers that they were not “blatantly profiteering” from them.

Shutting down sales will deliberately force people to head to the next natural option – the cheap one. Help the hypermarts finish their stock quickly and lure the stragglers back to the major book retailers with the delayed release events and additional freebies. Make it worth the wait and price.

As I said earlier, the price war actually made me reconsider buying a copy this year. I don’t really care what their motivations are; if I can save RM40, why not? Great!

Unfortunately for chain stores that are not in KL, not selling to walk-ins on release day can be a killer. Most of the people who went only found out at the counter! Three of Kuching’s major book stores are within walking distance of each other. Popular and Times make up two of them. Guess which book store is profiting from the walk-ins?

I certainly didn’t expect the release of HP7 in Malaysia to be quite this dramatic.

See Sharon Bakar’s post for more reactions.

Author: Georgette Tan

writer . poet . introvert . NSFW hand letterer . equatorial eclectic

3 Comments on “Harry Potter & The Coup in Malaysia

  1. Thank you Tesco for selling HP7 cheaply. Anyway at Tesco you can get HP1 to HP7 for only RM200. If we cant get cheap HPs we would go and photocopy.

  2. OMG….How dare you suggest to photostat a book!It’s just wrong ok!!!(Directed at first post).Besides,Tesco and Carrefour are selling the book as a loss leader,meaning they sell them so to lure customers in and buy other stuff as well.It’s just bad…I was looking forward for the launching party(never been to one before) and it got cancelled…shit…

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *