Books has always been a permanent fixture in my life, and I’ve always found that spending hours on end reading at a bookstore (discreetly) makes for a pretty good weekend plan. Sure, I’d be happy to be tagged as ‘boring’ or ‘unadventurous’ with my time spent in another land which books provide an avenue for, but I wouldn’t trade that feeling for much at all.
One thing that I do notice though, is that whilst there are numerous well-known book chains available locally, and is almost always a staple in every shopping mall, the actual purchases are dwindling. We need only stroll casually through a bookstore to see that there aren’t long queues at the cashier. People almost treat bookstores as their own library where they could spend hours on end at, and not purchase a single thing. I would know, for I am guilty of that too.
This could perhaps be attributed to the fact that the way people consume stories has changed. We either want things free or easily accessible. Driving out to a bookstore hardly ticks off any of these boxes. Books on the other hand aren’t getting any cheaper, especially the ones available in bookstores.
The high prices for a paperback novel could be due to the mark-up from the cost of rent for the bookstore itself. Needless to say, there had to be a way to attain novels without having to pay such an exorbitant amount, or for it to be of that much inconvenience to attain in the first place.
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All About The Stories
Enter a local e-bookstore. No, really, it’s as simple as several clicks of a button. One Malaysian e-bookstore has been able to tick off all boxes in terms of being free and easily accessible, and thus within 3 years of inception, the e-store has even managed to achieve more than 10,000 purchases. They are “free” in the sense that they provide free delivery across Malaysia, and they are accessible in the sense that all the books can be browsed through online.
Bookurve is the online bookstore which has captured the hearts of many Malaysians by easily housing 15,000 titles on the World Wide Web for locals to obtain. One of the most interesting parts about their site though is its interactivity. Users could even browse through the most popular books by location! For instance, as of May 2016, the most read/purchased book in Jerantut, Pahang is The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.
For those who prefer to shop the conventional way of searching for the title of the book or the author, they can do so through Bookurve’s database of books which includes Chinese titles and books for kids. Once you are done with a title, you could even opt to sell your used book through the marketplace available on site, by which you can earn points through.
The Books Chose Them
This interactive experience is perhaps one of the key contributors to growing Bookurve’s database. Hence, it is only apt that the duo behind it are avid readers themselves. Hossein and Lian Shen are 2 friends who adore reading philosophy books. They worked almost 7 years together, before the undeniable love for books drove them to this path where everyday, they get to be with one of the things they love most. “The love for books drove us to this path and so I can say, books chose us,” Hossein told Vulcan Post.
Hossein manages the technical side of things whereby he develops the website and mobile app. Lian Shen on the other hand, who spends 30 minutes each night reading before he rests, is responsible for the business operations side of Bookurve. They came together on this venture to fulfill their passion for books and also to fulfill their mission to provide the largest books selection to Malaysians, at a lower price.
“We want to provide the best online experience for readers to browse, discover new books and purchase in a very convenient way,” said Hossein. With that, they slowly grew their repertoire of books to an impressive 15 million (and growing), by combining the source of book data from major distributors.
Having Faith In Words
Bookurve is a portmanteau of the words “book” and “curve”. The word “curve” refers to each reader’s learning curve, and in my opinion, could even signify the learning curve that both men had whilst setting up the e-store. They face a challenge in which they had to find readers and tell them about the website. It’s really not as easy as a physical store whereby people could just walk in and buy.
By being an e-bookstore, users have to take the initiative to surf the web in search of local e-bookstores. Even so, both Hossein and Lian Shen say that there are no immediate plans to turn brick and mortar. “Currently, we want to focus in online as we believe there are still many readers out there yet to know about us,” Hossein said.
They know that the reading habit in Malaysia can be cultivated better, but we are on the right track. “Our nation is moving towards it, our government is giving RM250 BB1M vouchers to all students every year and this is the stepping stone towards a better reading habit,” said Hossein.
It is an inevitable fact though that we are fast moving towards an era of digitalisation. The Kindle is one example of how reading has evolved. The Bookurve team won’t let this deter them from growing, as they see how their readers who are mostly in the age group of 17-25, prefer physical books. Their guess is that the digital trend would be heating up in 5 years’ time, and when the time finally arrives, they are prepared to include digital versions of their books. This would be one way that Bookurve could continue to thrive in the industry.