Sunday, April 11, 2010

The book is not dead, just bad quality


I just a wonderful week in Vietnam, and spent a few days in a seaside city which was fabulous. Part of the routine of going to places like Vietnam is that there are so many people trying to sell you so many things you don't need or want.

We were persistently harassed by vendors trying to sell us books - they had a box on the back of their bike and really gave it a good go to sell you their wares. We were sitting in a local pho cafe when the gentleman in the photo approached us with his box of books. I had a look through the titles and saw two that took my fancy - both on the history of Vietnam and the American war.

I asked for the asking price - it was way above the RRP printed on the cover, I mentioned this and the price dropped a bit, but not enough. I then mentioned something about them being 2nd hand and being in pretty good condition - "No, no they are new". I continued the haggling and got the two books for a price I was happy to pay.

Later that night I opened the book to start reading it and it was a photocopied edition! Buyer beware! This was the first time I had encountered such thing (DVD's yes - books no).

It appears this a huge racket in Vietnam especially around the 'tourist' spots on the coast. Upon further inspection of other book vendors the next day, I noticed the titles were all the same. They obviously figured out which books were the most popular and photocopied them. The covers were brilliant copies, and the paper was much better than normal book paper, but the print and photographs were obviously less than excellent.

So there you go - the book is not dead, but the authors and publishers are missing out big time on their cut of the creation. Not sure I learned much more than to check what I am buying much more carefully in these parts of the world.

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