The Weekly’s Great Women of Our Time Awards is an annual initiative to shine the spotlight on ordinary Malaysian women, doing extraordinary things.
By The Weekly | August 17, 2016
The first Big Bad Wolf (BBW) sale was born out of frustration. In 2006, former accountant Jacqueline Ng opened a bookstore in Amcorp Mall with her husband Andrew Yap.
Inspired by overseas bookstores selling remainder books – overruns or overprints sold at a discount compared to regular bookshop prices – BookXcess became a firm favourite with readers thrilled to own books at a fraction of the cost.
She had been considering how to encourage non-readers to read when a customer’s passing comment sparked the idea of organising an event to inspire interest in books.
With no experience and limited publicity, Jacqueline knew there was a very real possibility that it could flop. However, thanks to Malaysia’s book-loving public, the BBW phenomenon has not only grown in scale and volume, but gone international too. Dubbed “the mother of all book fairs”, there was a 2.5km-long queue on opening day for their first BBW in Jakarta, and in August this year, BBW debuted in Bangkok.
Even though the event is huge now, BBW is still run with a deeply personal touch that focuses on listening to the customers.
“Every bit of knowledge I have is from the customer – from which book is good to why we should go on Facebook,” says Jacqueline.
A game-changer was their almost absurdly low prices, so that customers could buy more and give them to friends who did not go to the sale.
“To finance, it did not make much sense, but it is in line with our mission. Our customers write appreciative notes and leave them at the cashier.”
Not only is the brand converting readers, it is making headway in one of the hardest-to-penetrate segments. In the last BBW sale, the young adult genre, traditionally a tough sell, broke records.
“I realised it was the kids who started with us in 2009 who have grown up. If the reading habit is inculcated young, it will grow with you,” she says.
Text: Alexandra Wong /Shoot Coordinator: Jasnitha Nair / Styling: Sabrina Salehuddin / Photography: Brian Fang/ M8 Studio / Hair: Cindy Hor / Make Up: Zoee Low / Elizabeth Arden / Clothes Accessories: Zara and Bowerhaus
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