Benefit of renting books: #7 Avoid buying books you don’t read

In Malaysia, a book in mass-market paperback format costs RM35 on average. Once in awhile, there are several book clearance sales in the country. During these sales, that same book could be sold as low as RM5.

Most book-lovers go into book-buying frenzy. They bring boxes or trolley bags to the venue so imagine the amount of books that they purchase!

Few customers told Mr Sam (store owner) that they keep buying books even though they have not completed reading all of the previous year’s purchase. Some even own books that have been sitting on bookshelves for years!

So instead of buying books you don’t read, why don’t you rent books at SS Readers Corner? You only pay 25% of its retail price if you return the book before its due date (it’s usually 90-days rental).

Visit our store to find out more about our book collection.

A book clearance sale in Kuala Lumpur

ps: This is a serial of blog posts to encourage people to borrow/rent books. Find out more about this blog serial by clicking the tag ‘Series’.

Reading is good for you (infographic)

National Reading Campaign, a Toronto-based non-profit organization, has collaborated with CBC Books to create a campaign poster/infographic to encourage Canadians to read.

The infographic does not only highlight most important advantages, but also cites the research to support the facts.

Do you know that …

For more facts and supporting research on reading, visit this link.

Reading is Good For You (infographic)

Benefits of renting books: #6 Improve English proficiency

‘Bahasa Malaysia’ is the national language in Malaysia. English and Mandarin are widely spoken, particularly in main cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

Education First’s English Proficiency Index listed Malaysians as highly proficient English speakers. Yet recently several people have noted that English proficiency of Malaysian university graduates are quite low (read articles written by The SunLok Wing Kong and/or BA Hamzah for more details). As a result, these graduates become unemployable in the English-medium private sector (‘Bahasa Malaysia’ is the medium of instruction in the government sector).

There are many ways to improve one’s English language skill. One of the ways is to read (click here to see other strategies).

Out of 28,000 books stored in SS Readers Corner, majority of them are written in English. I asked my friend, who is an English graduate, to recommend books for English as Second Language (ESL) learners. She suggested these titles:

  • ‘Harry Potter series’ by J.K. Rowling
  • ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger
  • ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ by C.S. Lewis
  • ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon
  • ‘Anne of Green Gables’ by L.M. Montgomery
  • ‘Peter Pan’ by J.M. Barrie
  • ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll
  • ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ by Johnathan Swift

Even though these titles are categorised as young adult and children’s books, the language deployed in each book is rich. The plot has substance hence making it appealing to adults and teenagers.

We have the complete set of 'The Chronicles of Narnia' in our store

We have the complete set of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ in our store

Some of the suggested books are available from SS Readers Corner. Visit our store to rent the books and work on improving your English proficiency.

ps: This is a serial of blog posts to encourage people to borrow/rent books. Click on the number to read previous posts: #1#2#3#4 and #5.

Author-readers interaction: #2.1 Facebook event

In my previous post about the benefits of Facebook to an author, I focused mostly on the use of Facebook page.

Recently, I discovered that some authors used Facebook events to conduct their book release parties. I think it is a great idea because it transcends geographic borders. It costs much lesser than your standard party: authors do not need to hire a venue and book caterers, invite press and/or fans while invited guests themselves do not need to spend on travelling and lodging. Therefore using Facebook for book launch allows more people to take part.

For the past two weeks, I participated in book release parties held by my favourite authors, Robin Covington and Catherine Bybee. On 5th of August 2014, Ms Covington launched “Temptation”, her firsts book in New Adult genre. A week later, Ms Bybee released the fifth book in her Weekday Brides series “Taken by Tuesday”.

Virtual release day parties by Robin Covington and Catherine Bybee

Virtual release day parties by Robin Covington and Catherine Bybee

In addition to having so much fun, I learnt new things in book marketing. Here are five points that I learnt from the virtual release day parties:

Event name

Robin Covington named her book launch as “Temptation Release Day Slumber Party” – that’s very catchy! The event was held in the evening (USA time) and invitees were encouraged to wear their pyjamas. The author herself was really dressed in pyjamas (there was a photo evidence!).

Timing/duration of event

“Temptation Release Day Slumber Party” was two hours long while “Taken by Tuesday Release Day Party” took place during office hours (9 am till 5 pm). I enjoyed two-hour party more than the longer one because I was able to “be present” throughout the entire duration. I missed some activities at Ms Bybee’s party because I slept (there was a 15 hour time difference).

Guest appearances

There were many authors that attended and supported the event. It was a great opportunity to introduce new authors to the party-goers. Each guest author during Robin Covington’s party had 15 minute session with participants, which I thought was short. I was distracted during the party so by the time I posted and read comments by other participants, the guest author’s time was up and it was another author’s turn. There was slightly longer time to interact with guest authors at Ms Bybee’s party, which is slightly better.


The parties were filled with giveaways by the hosts and guest authors. Most giveaways involved simple questions such as “What’s your favourite romance sub-genre?” and “Who’s your favourite book hero of all time?”. Some giveaways were challenging, for example “What is the author Debra Holland’s other profession?” and “What other pen name Caridad Pineiro writes under?”. I had to look up Goodreads or the author’s website to find the answer. Some giveaways by guest authors involved liking Facebook page as proof of entry. Now that’s a clever strategy to increase fanbase! I’d say giveaways are compulsory in a book launch party!

Engage the party-goers

What better way to engage the party-goers than with interesting conversational topics. Since majority of heroes in romance novels are good-looking men with great physique and masculine confidence, debates on hot men were a must! Examples include “a trait in hero a reader find most attractive” and “favourite athlete hottie”. There were also topics that did not involve men, for instance a beautiful diamond ring posted by Catherine Bybee. Overall, there were comments to each post so one could assume that party-goers were engaged and had fun at the party.

As a reader who lives far far away from her favourite authors, I truly appreciate any book-related events that are conducted online and open to participants all over the world. I’d love to participate in these events not just to have fun but also to learn as much as I can.

So authors, why not set up a Facebook Event page for your next book launch? Feel free to extend an invitation to me by leaving the event’s details in the comment box below.

Benefits of renting books: #5 Increase the amount of reading

Reading is a habit with many advantages (refer to the infographic below).

The benefits of reading books

Unfortunately, there is lack of interest in reading among Malaysians. According to the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Malaysian students scored poorly in reading ability. Perhaps this could be attributed to the scarcity of Malaysian libraries. If there is one in a neighbourhood, it is not well-stocked. There are many book stores in Malaysia. However books are expensive especially when you compare the minimum wage (approximately RM5 an hour as McDonald’s worker) to the price of a paperback novel (between RM20 and RM30).

An alternative to a library and a book store is a book rental shop, which combines the function of a library and a book store. An example is SS Readers Corner. To rent books here, no membership is required. Instead, customers are required to pay for each book that they borrow. If the book is returned by its due date, some money will be returned to them.

With a vast collection of books available at most book rental stores, it is hoped that Malaysians will be encouraged to read more books. There is a book for every literate person out there so there is no excuse to avoid reading.

If you do not know which book to start your reading adventure, you could try this reading “diagnostic” tool or browse our ‘Bookshelves‘. If your children are reluctant readers, why not try these book suggestions?

ps: This is a serial of blog posts to encourage people to borrow/rent books. Click on the number to read previous posts: #1#2#3 and #4.

Author-readers interaction: #4 Instagram

Instagram is another visual social medium that is rapidly gaining popularity. Since its launch in 2010, Instagram currently has an astounding 200 million active users worldwide and stores approximately 20 billion photos. For those who have never heard of Instagram, it is a fun photo-sharing mobile application. Users (also known as ‘Instagrammers’) can choose to edit the photos using filters and share them via other social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. They could also like other people’s photos by clicking ❤ , comment on the photos and/or follow other Instagrammers.

Similar to Twitter, one can find other book lovers by typing hashtags such as #bookstagram, #bookworm, #amreading. Bookstagram stands for the book community on Instagram. A lot of book-loving Instagrammers post photos of their book collection e.g. bookshelves, To-Be-Read lists. One photo catches my attention: an excited fan getting ready for a book signing session in her hometown in the Philippines (see below).

With so many social media available out there, how can authors benefit from Instagram? Here are some strategies that can be done via Instagram:

1. Market new books. One of the ways to do this is to reveal the cover of a yet-to-be-published book. In early July, Colleen Hoover revealed the cover of her latest book ‘Ugly Love’. The book, which is scheduled to be released on 5th of August 2014, is already generating buzz via Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads.

2. Organise a contest. To celebrate the release of Hoda Kotb‘s book, Simon & Schuster organised a photo contest titled ‘Ten Years Later’. To enter the contest, keen individuals were asked to upload original photos from ten years ago to Instagram, type the hashtag #TenYearsLater and tag @HodaKotb in the caption. Participants submitted wonderful now-and-then photos.

3. Give a visual glimpse of their personal lives. Amy Tan (author of ‘The Joy Luck Club’) shares pictures of her dog, travels, people she meets and fans posting with her newest book ‘The Valley of Amazement’. My favourite is a photo of her and Matt Groening.

4. Share behind-the-scenes of an author’s work. Jarrett Krosoczka, who is an author, illustrator and TED speaker, shares some of his sketches on Instagram (refer below).

So authors, why not create an Instagram account now? If you would like to read more on its benefits, visit these links: Maximize Social Business and Combined Book. If you are keen to find out more about book-related hashtags on Instagram, check out this brief guide and video.

Do you follow your favourite author(s) via Instagram? If ‘yes’, then ‘Like’ this post.

ps: This is a serial of blog posts about communication methods between author and readers. Check out previous posts – #1 (Twitter), #2 (Facebook) and #3 (Pinterest).

Benefits of renting books: #4 Try out new author/genre

“Hhhmmm everyone seems to be reading this book. I’ve never read his/her book before but the reviews are mostly positive. I should buy a copy then”.

(contemplate to buy while going to the cash register)

“I don’t want to waste money on something I might not like. I’ll get it when it’s on sale”.

Have you ever been in this situation before? Or do you get frustrated with reading the same genre all the time?

When I catalogued the books from SS Readers Corner for this website, I discovered many unfamiliar authors such as Allison BrennanDavid Baldacci and Terry Pratchett. Thanks to the wide collection of books there, I could switch to different author or genre. I don’t want to waste time on atrocious writing. Therefore I would first check out reviews at Goodreads before deciding on a book.

Tess Gerritsen's books are in my 'To Be Read' list

Tess Gerritsen’s books are now in my ‘To Be Read’ list

I am intrigued by Tess Gerritsen‘s work ever since I spotted her books at a book sale in May. I have never read a medical thriller so I plan to start with ‘Harvest’. If I enjoy the writing but find it too gruesome, I could try ‘Rizzoli and Isles’ series. If I want to continue with medical thriller books, I could search for the best written books in the genre.

Do you remain loyal to a specific genre or experiment among many? Share your views in the comment box below.

ps: This is a serial of blog posts to encourage people to borrow/rent books. Click on the number to read previous posts: #1#2 and #3.

Author-readers Interaction: #3 Pinterest

“A picture is worth a thousand words”.

I totally agree with that saying because I am a visual learner. That’s why I love using Pinterest, a social networking website that is slowly gaining popularity worldwide. Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where users can search for images and videos on the internet and curate them based on a theme. I manage a wide collection of pins ranging from social media and e-Learning to music, books and Michael Fassbender (yes, I have a board devoted to him).

Booklovers are amongst active Pinterest users. A perfect example is a board that appreciates Stephen Chbosky‘s ‘The Perks of Being A Wallflower’ (refer below) . The board is decorated with images inspired by the book, as well as stills taken from the film. What I love about this board is ‘Charlie’s First Mixtape’ pin (I love the music featured in the book).

I believe that authors could use Pinterest to their advantages. They could:

  1. list all their books. To do so, pin book covers from own websites and write a brief description of each book. If visitors are curious about the book(s) and would like to get more information, they could click on ‘Visit Site’ button.
  2. use visuals to make their stories come alive. For example, Jo Beverley has a Pinterest board on her novel ‘A Shocking Delight’. She uses pictures of London and Devon in the early 1800 to illustrate the setting of the story.
  3. create a contest. Roost Books recently held a Pinterest contest to celebrate the release of ‘Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Investors’ by Rachelle Doorley. The winner uses the most colourful and creative images that encapsulate ‘Tinkering Inspiration’ theme.
  4. have a fun interaction with fans. In the ‘Who would be a good hero in …?’ board, Susan Elizabeth Phillips shares fans’ pick of actors for her “imaginary” book-to-movie adaptations.

Even though majority of Pinterest users (80%) are female, male authors/fans should not be discouraged. I must admit that it was hard to find a male author that uses Pinterest… until I discovered James Patterson’s Pinterest account (cue a fist pump!). I reckon his Pinterest appeals to many fans especially young fans (there are six boards dedicated to young readers).

I hope I have presented a convincing case for authors to sign up for Pinterest. If you would like to get detailed Pinterest guides for authors, visit The Book DesignerWriter’s Digest and DIYThemes .

Do you manage or follow a book-themed Pinterest board? Click on the ‘Like’ button below if your answer is ‘Yes’.

ps: This is a serial of blog posts about communication methods between author and readers. Post #1 is about Twitter, post #2 is about Facebook and post#4 is about Instagram.

Benefits of renting books: #3 Saves shelf space

Most bibliophiles (myself included) prefer to buy books instead of borrowing them. Purchasing books is always joyous and/or rewarding especially when one buys paperbacks and/or hardcopies (Readers, e-books are not yet popular in Malaysia). I love the smell of the pages of a book.

If you have a special room for your books, that is great. If you hardly have space for your stuff (e.g. books, clothes etc.), then you need to figure a way to store your books. You could buy bookcases (just like the image below) but it might be expensive for someone who have extensive collection of items. A case in point: I collect CDs, DVDs and books. Therefore finding space to store these items in my tiny room is always a challenge for me.

Billy Bookcase from Ikea

Billy Bookcase from Ikea – would it fit all my collections of CDs, DVDs and books?

That’s why I resort to borrowing and renting books. I save money by not spending on books and bookcases. I don’t need to worry about dusting my books. My room is not cramped with too many furnitures. If I ever feel the need to add more books to my existing bookshelves, I could use borrowed books. 😉

ps: This is a serial of blog posts to encourage people to borrow books. Read posts #1 and #2.

Author-readers interaction: #2 Facebook

Last year approximately 1.23 billion users actively logged into Facebook every month. Furthermore, about 556 million users access this site daily via smartphones and tablets. As I get myself more and more involved in blogging, I notice that most authors have Facebook pages. The impressive statistics on Facebook are solid reasons for authors to communicate with fans and potential readers via Facebook.

Why does an author create a Facebook page when s/he already has a website? With Facebook page, fans do not need to keep visiting website to get updates on the author’s works. When a fan likes an author’s Facebook page, all the latest news would appear on his/her News Feed. Facebook page is about a community: it gives an author a place to talk to and get feedback from their fans. The more active and friendly an author becomes the closer relationship s/he will have with fans. Check out Dan Brown’s Facebook page. His picture with Mark Twain is liked by more than 2,600 people? Impressive!

A couple of weeks ago, Romance Festival 2014 organised many Q & A sessions with authors, book cover designers, blogger and publishers. One of the guest authors was Samantha Young, a New York Times bestseller. Due to big time difference between USA and Malaysia, I wasn’t able to join the session. It’s a good thing that the the Q & A is still there. I could read it at my leisure. Using Facebook page to conduct a Q & A session benefits the readers too. It is much easier to locate post and read it, unlike  Twitter (the messy order of tweets in a Twitter chat confuses me at times).

Facebook is the most popular social media in the world. If you are a public figure, then you ought to consider creating a Facebook fan page. Don’t know how to start? Go to this link for tips.

Are you already following your favourite authors via Facebook? If you answer ‘Yes’, then like this page. 🙂

ps: This is a serial of blog posts about communication method between author and readers. Read other posts on Twitter and Pinterest.